Why we are still detaining Shiite leader, El-Zakzaky – Nigerian Government explains

The Nigerian Government on Friday gave a reason for the continued detention of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.


Speaking during a press briefing at the UN secretariat in New York, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Muhammadu Buhari administration is not willing to disrupt the process of inquiry initiated by the Kaduna State government and has decided to allow the full process of the law prevail in the case.

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The Kaduna State government recently released the report of a panel its set up to investigate the clash which led to the massacre of over 300 members of the Shiite group by soldiers.

Mr. Onyeama, responding to a question by newsmen, said the federal government would study the report.

“Government will study it, the Attorney General will look at the report and whatever measure needs to be taken will be taken,” he said in New York.

Over 300 members of the IMN were killed between December 12 and 14 after the army accused them of blocking a major highway and plotting to kill the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.

Hundreds of members of the sect including its leader, Mr. El-Zakzaky, and his wife, were subsequently arrested.

For several weeks, Mr. El-Zakzaky was prevented from seeing anyone include his doctors, lawyers or family members.

On April 5, the Islamic cleric’s lawyer who was finally allowed to see him, confirmed public rumours that the army had damaged Mr. Zakzaky’s eye.

“As a result of the brutal attack, Sheikh Zakzaky lost his left eye while doctors are currently battling to save the right one,” the lawyer, Femi Falana, said.

On Friday, Mr. Onyeama stated that the IMN leader was getting the required medical attention.

“He (Mr. El-Zakzaky) is getting all the medical attention he requires. This I can say with certainty,” the minister said.

A Federal High Court in Abuja in July denied an application for bail by Mr. El-Zakzaky.

According to the court, Mr. El-Zakzaky and his lawyers failed to seek the leave of the court to hear the application during the vacation period.

The Shiite massacre has been condemned by local and international groups including Amnesty International.



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