The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has described as ridiculous, the reason given by the federal government for the continued detention of its leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, told journalists in New York that Mr. Zakzaky was being detained because the government was still studying the report of the Judicial Commission of inquiry set up by Kaduna State government into the killings of Shiites last December in Zaria.
But in a statement on Sunday by its spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, the sect said Mr. Onyeama did not state the truth on the issue. It said the government was unjustifiably holding Mr. Zakzaky hostage, despite atrocities committed by the army on his family and members of the sect.
The spokesman said the Zaria incident has dented the human rights image of Nigeria’s government before the international community.
Mr. Musa said the IMN leader was abducted and illegally detained without charges for over nine months in contravention of the Nigerian constitution and violation of the detainee’s fundamental human rights.
“We believe his illegal detention has nothing to do with the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI). He is not being detained by the JCI nor is he detained on its recommendation.
“In fact the JCI had to extend its period of sitting to seek ways for Mr. Zakzaky’s legal team to meet with him in detention. In fact, the JCI was even inaugurated while the Sheikh was already in detention,” Mr. Musa said.
According to the sect’s spokesman, Mr. Zakzaky’s detention was neither discussed by the JCI during its sessions nor did it bother to make any issue of it.
“Sheikh Zakzaky is being detained by the presidency under the Department of State Service (DSS) and not by the JCI,” he said.
Mr. Musa said “the DSS told the court that the Sheikh was under ‘protective custody’, and with his consent after refusing to allow his lawyers to receive regular briefs from him. Even though this statement is a blatant lie by those holding the Sheikh hostage, why didn’t the (Foreign Minister) echo it to the world’s press?
“The DSS told this to the court to dismiss the saying that the revered leader is being detained illegally without any charges. If his detention had anything to do with the JCI, the DSS would have told that to the court. But it didn’t because his detention had nothing to do with the JCI.”
“If Sheikh Zakzaky is released now, will that tamper with their study of JCI report? We believe it will not. It will only show the world their intent in doing justice in the case of Zaria massacre”.
Mr. Musa reiterated the IMN demand for the “unconditional release of Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife Malama Zeenah Ibrahim, the 200 IMN members detained in Kaduna Prisons and the hundreds missing, who we believe are being detained by military authorities secretly since the Zaria massacre”.