Nobody can absolve Buhari from complicity in the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky
In a recent interview with the Hausa service of BBC, Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, insisted that the federal government’s continued illegal incarceration of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, against a valid subsisting court order is for some undefined “security concerns.” He went further to say that the security concerns of the nation are far above the fundamental human rights of any citizen. He further exonerated the President from responsibility for the continued detention of the Sheikh simply because of what he termed the character of the President not to interfere in the affairs of security agencies.
Certain obvious questions beg for answer. We will like the Minister to come out clearly and tell the World at what point the Buhari government realized that Sheikh Zakzaky is a security threat. This is because for more than a year after the brutal attack on Sheikh Zakzaky and the Movement he leads, the official position had been that he was being kept in “protective custody” and they had told the court he did not commit any crime. The court having therefore ruled that “protective custody” is alien to all known laws of the land ordered for his immediate release and awarded compensation against the government for wrongful detention. Having lost on that front the government is changing the goal post midway into the game.
It must be observed that this new position canvassed by the Minister is even at variance with what he earlier stated when asked why the Buhari government has not released Sheikh Zakzaky within the time frame the court ordered. At that point he said they wanted to obey the court order to release the Sheikh and build a house for him as the court had said, only that they were limited by people not wanting to be neighbors of the Sheikh. This is the very reason why Lai must tell the world when they suddenly realized that the Sheikh is now a “security concern.”
If the Minister is convinced that their government has justification for brandishing this new position, why won’t the government charge him to court to prove why they must continue to hold him? Everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and the government cannot live above the laws of the land and capriciously detain innocent citizens without recourse to the laws of the land. This same Minister had shamelessly said the courts do not “have the full picture” in yet another previous interview when asked why their government was disobeying court judgments. We challenge the Minister to go and give the courts the full picture and let the courts scrutinize his allusions. Indeed, “security concern” has become the currency of the moment!
Another very dishonest insinuation in that BBC Hausa interview by Lai Mohammed was the frantic attempts at shielding President Buhari of any complicity in the Zaria genocide of December 2015 and the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky in contempt of the court. The President’s complicity is not in doubt in the whole of the pogrom. As the chief security officer of the country, Buhari kept a sealed mouth initially even when armed soldiers of whom he is the ultimate commander in chief killed over a thousand unarmed citizens and secretly dumped in mass graves within a few hours. The initial reaction of the presidency was that it was a “military affair!” When further pressed to comment by media men he tamely said “it was a Kaduna state affair.” However, the President let the cat out of the bag himself in faraway Qatar in an interview with a satellite television channel Al-Arabiyyah on 1st March, 2016 that the Zaria massacre was to curtail the rapid growth of Shiism in Nigeria which he attributed to what he called “Iranian missionary activity” that they will not tolerate. We challenge the Minister to rebroadcast that Al-Arabiyyah news clip on national television network to deny the obvious complicity of his principal.
Finally we would like to reiterate our two year stance, namely the immediate release of our leader Sheikh Zakzaky and all other members of IMN being detained across the country. It is our right to demand for our religious freedom and other fundamental human rights and we will not shy away from doing just that in a peaceful manner legally.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF IMN