Scores of Shiites on Tuesday in Abuja embarked on another massive protest promising to die for the cause their religion.
The protesters marched from the National Human Rights Commission at Maitama through Transcorp Hilton to Gana Street chanting anti-government songs to call for the release of their spiritual leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
The mob, however, defied the presence of the armed security agents who were patrolling the city in search of the group.
The leader of the protesters, Abdullahi Musa, said the level of lead poison in the blood of El-Zakzaky as detected by the doctors was 201.7 milligrams which is abnormal and thereby posed a serious threat to his life.
“His life is in danger and there is no reason for us to go back and sit down at home. The oppressors always brutalise, oppress and instill fears in the mind of the people. We are ready to die in this cause and we have said it that we must come and they should get ready. If they like they should come and kill us,” Musa stated.
He denied allegations that members of the movement shot two policemen and vandalised 50 vehicles at the National Assembly complex.
Musa explained that policemen in mufti should be held responsible for the destruction.
…El-Zakzaky, wife may die in SSS custody soon, son says
Mohammed Zakzaky, son of Nigeria’s foremost Shi’a preacher Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has raised concerns about the worsening health conditions of his father and mother, saying they had both been deprived of adequate care in custody.
El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zinat, have been held in detention of the State Security Service (SSS) since December 2015 when Nigerian security forces breached their residence in Zaria and took them away. Nearly 350 Shi’a Islam faithful were killed by Nigerian soldiers during the attack on Mr el-Zakzaky’s residence and worship centre between December 12 and 13, 2015.
More than 100 members have also been killed in relentless protests to demand the release of their leader since 2015. The demonstrations have held amidst competent court orders for the SSS to release the cleric on both health and fundamental rights grounds.
Amidst his perpetual detention, doctors for Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife said the couple had been suffering chronic ailments that needed urgent attention at a medical facility and not in SSS custody. The secret police, however, insisted the coupled had been getting adequate care in custody.
In January 2018, the SSS arranged a select group of television cameramen to record Mr El-Zakzaky outside its headquarters in Abuja, marking the first time the preacher would be seen in public since he was arrested in 2015.
Mohammed Zakzaky said his parents’ health had seriously deteriorated when he visited them in custody on July 6, warning that time was fast running out on their recovery.
“Although I do not wish to give in to despair, at this current point I feel that there is little left that I can do to try to save them, as every single attempt we have currently made has either been deliberately frustrated or simply ignored,” Mr Zakzaky said in a statement.
He said his father had excessive concentration of lead in his bloodstream, yet SSS has been preventing him from getting necessary medical care from qualified personnel.
“My father was found to have unusually excessive and life-threatening concentrations of lead and cadmium in his blood. As a result of this, various experts we have consulted recommended immediate hospitalisation in a properly equipped facility and other medical procedures in order to try to save his life. This was over a month ago, yet nothing has been done to date,” he said.
He also alleged inadequate care of her mother, whose pains he said had continued to worsen.
“My mother, on the other hand, whose numerous medical issues were well known since before, has similarly received none of the care that was recommended. The frequent attack of chronic pain which she had been suffering on average on a monthly basis has now turned into a daily routine. And to date, none of the underlying medical issues causing these attacks has been addressed.
“When we met aside from what could be visibly seen of their deteriorating condition such as my father’s teeth which in the space of a month has turned from dark brown to virtually jet black, my father also informed me of how his condition has been worsening since the last time we met.
“Most disturbing of these issues is the fact that he is beginning to show signs that are very similar to what happened before he had a stroke in January 2018. Whereas in the past he had only been suffering intermittent attacks of chronic pain, it has now become virtually a daily occurrence,” he said.
Zakzaky said his father’s death may be imminent due to the actions of the Nigerian government.
…IG visits victims in Nat’l Hospital
Following Shiites protest on Tuesday which resulted in attack of police personnel while protecting the citizens, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has paid a visit to security operatives who fell victims of the incident at the National Hospital, even as he condemned the action of the El-Zakzakky Islamic movement.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the act and commended the policemen for showing restrain by not moving the same way with the protesters.
“I have just visited our officers who were shot by members of the El-Zakzakky Islamic Movement of Nigeria during a violent protest in Abuja.
“I have seen them; some are carrying bullet wounds while others were attacked with clubs and stones. It is an act that is not tolerated; it is an act that, we will never take again.
“The right for citizens to express themselves does not mean the right to trample on others to the extent of causing havoc and inflicting injury on them,” he said.
Adamu pledged commitment of the police to ensure diligent prosecution of the 40 suspects already arrested in connection with the protest.
He said the force would intensify actions to ensure the arrest of other suspects who were currently at large for justice to prevail.
The police boss said the force was prepared for the group to ensure that room was not given for breakdown of law and order adding that the strategy to be adopted would not be made public.
It was gathered that group had during a protest violently tried to have their way into the National Assembly complex.
It took the intervention of the police operatives on ground to proactively, professionally and used minimum force to disperse the unruly protesters.
Members of the group had during the violent protest, shot two police personnel on the leg and used clubs and stones to inflict injuries on six others.
…release him, Reps tell FG
Members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to release the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, in accordance with several court rulings.
The House made this call while adopting a motion by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.
The lawmakers said the IMN members who have been protesting their leader’s continued detention could wreak more havoc.
El-Zakzaky was arrested in December 2015 after Nigerian soldiers killed about 347 of his supporters during a clash in Zaria, Kaduna State. The soldiers had accused the Shiite group of blocking a major road that was to be used by army chief, Tukur Buratai.
That massacre of the Shiites has been condemned by local and international rights groups.
Since the December 2015 incident, El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been in detention; first without trial for about a year. They were eventually charged with murder for the death of a soldier during the December 2015 incident.
Despite several courts granting him bail, the government has insisted on detaining him, thereby agitating his followers to embark on several protests.
The most recent of the clashes was at the National Assembly on Tuesday where the protesters clashed with security operatives while trying to gain access to the parliament.
Two police officers were shot while several cars were damaged during the clash.
This action prompted the motion by Elumelu in which he called on his colleagues to probe the attempted invasion of the National Assembly and ensure adequate security measures are in place at the legislative chamber.
While some of his colleagues agreed with the need for improved security, others emphasised that they should instead address “the root cause” of the protests which they identified as the continued detention of El-Zakzaky.
They argued that the circumstances surrounding the matter are similar to what led to the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgent group.
Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa-Ibom) said it is unfortunate that while the lawmakers are onempowered to make laws, the federal government is going against the rule of law in disobedience to the court orders for the release of the IMN leader.
“If the court has given an order for the release of the man, we should call on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the National Assembly alone,” he said.
Bamidele Salam from Osun State said El-Zakzaky’s continued detention is injustice and “injustice to one is an injustice to all.”
“I want to urge the federal government to look into the matter of the leader of this movement and allow the rule of law to take its course … to ensure that Boko Haram is not replicated in Shiites movement,” he said.
Last year, former minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in defence of the Islamic leader’s continued detention said that no one wants to accept him as a neighbour.
Dozens of other Shiite members have been killed in different protests mainly in Abuja and Kaduna since the December 2015 incident.