Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, has said that that Sambo Dasuki, a former national security adviser, and Ibrahim El Zakzaky, the leader of the largest Shi’ite sect in Nigeria cannot be released now as both are being held on the grounds of national security.
The minister on Saturday, June 17, 2017 an interaction with journalists at his home town Oro in Kwara State after a Ramadhan public lecture proclaimed, in a Channels TV report, that the federal government is in possession of damning evidences against the detained persons and would rather infringe on their personal freedom than putting the entire country at risk.
He noted that despite the evidences against the former security adviser, he refused to name or explain how the arms fund was shared, wondering how such a person should be released.
Commenting on the hate speeches and threat by some groups asking others to leave their environment, he blamed the government of former president Goodluck Jonathan and warned that government would not take it lightly with those fanning embers of disunity.
Nigerian State Declares War On Shi’ites
Following a street clash in December 2015, between the sects members and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, following which the army conducted a house-by-house raid on the sect, killing over 800 members in cold blood.
Governor Nasir El Rufai went on television and declared the group guilty and promised to “end this problem once and for all” as he repeated the dubious claim by the army that there was an assassination attempt on the life of the Chief of Army Staff.
That same month, El Rufai in a destructive show of power ordered the demolishing of all properties, worship centres, schools, tombs, and even a cemetery belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The Kaduna State agency, KASUPDA carried out the illegal operation.
On December 23, 2015 the Islamic Movement of Nigeria complained that under the protection of Nigerian Army and the Nigeria’s Secret Police, the Department of State Security Services, DSS, officials of KASUPDA “razed to ground” what remained of the sect’s Husainiyya Islamic centre.
“We are particularly irked by the demolition of our newly bought property adjacent the Husainiyya Baqiyyatullah, a former NTC compound, which they did yesterday. That compound has been in existence since the colonial times,” the statement said.
The Dubious Attempted Assassination Claim
According to the Nigerian Army, it’s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buraitai was trying to make his way through a procession of the Shi’ia sect when an assassination attempt was made on his life by followers of El-Zakzaky who is the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. In an attempt to repel the attack by assailants who “brandished dangerous weapons”, Nigerian troops opened fire on the crowd and killed an undisclosed number of people. According to some reports as many as seventeen people were killed.
In an attempt to win the hearts and minds of Nigerian by justifying the killings of Shi’ite faithfuls in Zaria, the Army authorities released a video showing its officers negotiating with followers of leading Shi’ia cleric, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
But the video released by the army doesn’t prove its claim. It only shows some of Buraitai’s men negotiating for passage, presumably for their boss, and being declined. It doesn’t show the arrival of the army boss to the scene, neither does it show the alleged assassination attempt. It doesn’t show the troops engaging the unruly youth.
Gross Human Rights Abuse Against Shi’ites
Following the street clash between the army and followers of the sect, the Nigerian Army proceeded to invade the home of the leader of the sect, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, kill his son and wife, shoot him four times, drag him out from his house like an animal, bloodied, disrobed, and dump him in a wheelbarrow.
For several months after El Zakzaky was arrested, his whereabouts were sketchy as the chief of army staff claimed he had “handed him over to appropriate authorities”, and the then inspector general of police, Solomon Arase has refused to disclose his location to interested parties.
In a two-day rampage of unrestrained violence, Nigerian soldiers killed 800 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, demolished buildings including a mosque belonging to the Shi’ite sect, and destroyed properties. Associated Press reports that the Nigerian Army has secretly buried their victims to cover-up their crimes against humanity.
The Emir of Kano, Sanusi II has issued a statement on the incident saying that the Shi’ia sect “insults relatives of Prophet Mohammed” and said that the sect’s ideology is “unacceptable to all Muslims”. The King of Saudi Arabia congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on phone calling the brutal crackdown on the minority sect as “fighting terrorism”.
Human Rights Watch has released a report which says that Nigerian soldiers murdered over 300 Shi’ite members and buried them secretly in mass graves to cover up their crimes.
The Kaduna State government admitting to burying more than 370 bodies of the victims of the Army genocide in mass graves.
Two videos have emerged showing the extent of human rights abuses committed in Zaria by the Nigerian Army. Unlike the ‘promotional’ video shot through the eyes of the troops which has been traced to Army Spokesman, Colonel Sani Usman, these videos paint an unsettling picture of a siege on unarmed civilians by a bloodthirsty army, these videos are those recorded by eye-witnesses to these crimes.
In one of the videos, soldiers are seen laying a firing squad around a Shi’ite shrine. in preparation of an onslaught on the sect. The second video shows soldiers going house-by-house committing acts of murder as the victims scream in helplessness.
On December 2, 2016, close to a year since El Zakzaky was shot several times in his home and bundled out of his house with his wife by troops of the Nigerian Army, a federal high court ordered his release and awarded N50 million in damages to the Zakzakys.
The court ordered that the federal government provided the cleric and his wife with a new accommodation and security in any part of Kaduna or Northern region that they prefer within 45 days. The federal government is yet to obey the court order and he remains illegally in detention.
Today, Wednesday, April 12, 2017 marks 486 days that the Shi’ite leader has spent in detention, illegally, on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.