In a defiant manner on Saturday hundreds of members of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), staged a peaceful protest in Kaduna to demand the release of their spiritual leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The protesters closed down the popular Ahmadu Bello way causing heavy traffic on the road.
As they walked through the busy Gumi market, they sang praises of Mr. El-Zakzaky and called on the government to release him from detention.
“We are not terrorist, we are Nigerians, free our leader, free El-Zakzaky” they said.
Mr. El-Zakzaky has been detained without trial, by the Nigerian government since December after over 300 members of his group were killed by soldiers.
The army said the members blocked a public road and plotted to kill the Army chief, Tukur Buratai, a claim the Shiites denied.
Local and international human rights groups have condemned the killings and called for the prosecution of the soldiers involved.
A panel set up by the Kaduna government confirmed the killings and called for the prosecution of the soldiers who authorised the shootings.
The panel also recommended the disbandment of the IMN. While the soldiers are yet to be prosecuted, the Kaduna State Government has outlawed the IMN.
On Saturday, members of the group said they were not deterred and would continue to demand the release of their leader.
“We are not afraid of anybody. All we are asking is for the government to release our leader. I am not afraid of death,” a female protester said.
Unlike recent protests embarked upon by the group recently, the police on Saturday did not disrupt the march.