Dozens of Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) members held a solidarity demonstration against the continued incarceration of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, in London yesterday.
The protest, which came ahead of today’s court ruling on El-Zakzaky’s bail application, took place outside the Nigerian High Commission by Trafalgar Square. It also followed Friday’s order by the Federal High Court in Abuja proscribing IMN.
Justice Darius Khobo of the Kaduna State High Court on July 18, 2019 adjourned ruling on the application filed by the leader seeking permission to undergo medical treatment abroad.
Although the demonstration marked the end of the 18-day 24-hour action they had embarked upon, the organisers said they were ready to “escalate” matters if he’s not granted bail accordingly. “We will march outside Nigerian companies and the bank at Shepherd’s Bush and other places,” one of the speakers said.
In an exclusive interview after the protest, which ended shortly after 4:00 p.m., IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “El-Zakzaky needs to travel outside Nigeria to get treatment. There’s no way they can treat him in Nigeria.”
According to Shadjareh, there is a division among government’s officials about El-Zakzaky’s continued detention adding that some of the officials want him out, but others do not.
Asked if he thought there was any external factor at play on El-Zakzaky’s incarceration, he alleged: “Saudis. It’s Saudi Arabia. They don’t want him out. They’ve given the government millions of dollars.”
Reacting to the proscription yesterday, IMN, also known as Shiites, said: “We are in consultations with our lawyers. We would, as a peaceful people who have been victims of Buhari’s government-sponsored terror attacks throughout his first term and continuing, give an appropriate response.”
A statement released by the president of IMN Media Forum, Mallam Ibrahim Musa, said: “We want to assure the general public and the international community that we will not be pushed into taking any rash decision no matter the provocation.
“This order, we believe, was hastily obtained to sweep under the carpet the glaring human rights abuses suffered by the Islamic Movement at the hands of Buhari’s administration since the Zaria genocide of December, 2015.
“We reject any false flag terror attacks that the authorities would be plotting in our name, and by this assure the general public that we have never contemplated the use of terror tactics in our ways. This is not about to change.”
This came as another Shiites’ group yesterday issued a clarification on the Federal Government’s action, saying only IMN and not the entire Shiites community in Nigeria was affected by the ban.
However, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) in a statement by National Publicity Secretary Henry Peter Ekine said: “The continued detention of El-Zakzaky, despite court orders for his release, is clearly illegal. The supporters of his faith have the inviolable right to demand his unconditional release and stage a peaceful protest against his continued detention, without unjustifiable violence.