On Thursday September 22, 2016 members of the Islāmic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) of where the majority of Shiite Muslims, converged in Abuja to protest the continued illegal detention of their Leader Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Zakzaky. Zakzaky was incarcerated without being charged and has been in state custody since December 2015.The group equally accused the government of denying their leader access to proper medical care.
In a statement signed by the group’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa issued to the media via email Musa said the Nigerian army had mounted make-shift road blocks seeking to prevent people from entering Abuja for the protest march. The Shiites alleged that during the protest on Thursday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital about a hundred arrests were made, including of women and children who were taken to military barracks.
“Thousands who had managed to enter Abuja for the peaceful march were crudely attacked by the Nigerian Police, who physically attempted to prevent the march for no just cause. They fired tear gas and live bullets as well to disrupt the peaceful march. Consequently, scores were injured and many more were arrested and are being detained”.
“IMN has relentlessly carried out peaceful protests across the country and Abuja, inclusive to press for the release of Shaikh Zakzaky and all those in illegal detention with him, since the brutal clampdown on the IMN in December last year. Why this obnoxious attempt to further trample on the rights of the people even after the assurance given by IGP some weeks ago that the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful protest is guaranteed is baffling.Our rights to freely move is inalienable and we wish to remind the Nigerian security agents of the fundamental rights of people to assemble peacefully and demonstrate without any official harassment. If at all they are in doubt or have forgotten, they should consult their lawyers since Nigerian courts have upheld this position,” he said.
The group also called on the international community, as a matter of urgency, to impose sanctions, travel bans, and freezing of foreign accounts of top political, military, and security officials who have featured prominently in the blatant abuse of their citizens such as that of the Zaria clash of December 2015. The clash was characterized by extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention incommunicado without charges, denial of legal and medical access, abductions and mass graves. As a first step, the international community, they explained, should also put pressure on the government to speedily release Shaikh Zakzaky for urgent medical attention.
On December 12-13, 2015 Channel TV reported that the Nigerian Army and members of the sect had accused each other of instigating attacks that led to the death of members of the movement in Zaria.While the army accused the sect members of attempting to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, the Islamic Movement said soldiers opened fire on defenseless innocent people who were on a peaceful procession as reported by the TV station.