Leader of the Shi’ite Islamic sect Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky was yesterday remanded in prison custody by a chief magistrate.
He was arraigned at the Chief Magistrates’ Court 1, Zaria Road, Kaduna and charged with criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.
Some of his supporters were arraigned with him.
Police spokesperson Olabisi Kolawole confirmed the arraignment and remand of the Shi’ite leader.
She said: “The Shi’ite leader has been arraigned at a magistrates’ court and charged with criminal conspiracy, inciting public disturbances, among others. He has been remanded in prison custody and the case adjourned.”
The Shi’ite leader was arrested after his members blocked the path of the Chief of Army Staff in Zaria, leading to a clash with soldiers. Many sect members were killed.
Army Chief Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai said last week that he was no longer in the custody of the army, but with the agency of government responsible for prosecution of suspects.
Inspector General of Police Solomon Arase confirmed that the Islamic leader was with them.
Kaduna-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi has alleged that Sheikh El-Zakzaky ran a parallel government in the North for 40 years.
Addressing reporters yesterday, Gumi said: “The Shi’ites have been embarking on military training and producing cadets and soldiers. They are operating a state within a state.”
According to him, “the Islamic Movement of Nigeria does not recognise the corporate entity of the country. The group is not registered. Members operate above the law and get direct foreign aid.”
Gumi said ex-President Umaru Yar’adua told him of the massive importation of arms and ammunition in parts of the country, citing Iran as a supplier of arms to the Shi’ites.
The doctor-turned Islamic scholar said the clash between Shi’ites and soldiers was “a divine intervention to prevent us from a catastrophe as that of Boko Haram.”
He said he wrote Zakzaky about a year ago, warning him about the dangers of blocking roads during the annual Ar’baeen trek, when his followers trekked from all over the country to Zaria.
Gumi said blocking roads was an abomination in Islam.
The scholar said the North would be underdeveloped if Shia and Boko Haram were not eradicated, adding: “Unnecessary blocking of roads and shouting of slogans increase tension in the North.”
The Shi’ite group, however, said: “Gumi’s allegation that we ran a parallel govt is not true, because a government exists when it has a standing army and a territory, which we don’t have. We don’t even own a mosque, we pray with other Muslims.
“How can there be two governments for 40 years in the same territory without war? We pay taxes and are law-abiding. For the past 40 years, nobody can claim we attacked or molested him.”