This afternoon in Katsina, the Free Zakzaky campaign Committee addressed the press as part of activities marking the brutal Zaria massacre and the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and others.
Read the full text:
BEING A PRESS CONFERENCE DELIVERED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FREE ZAKZAKY CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE TO MARK A THOUSAND DAYS SINCE THE BRUTAL ZARIA MASSACRE AND THE CONSEQUENT UNLAWFUL DETENTION OF SHEIKH IBRAHEEM ZAKZAKY
DELIVERED ON 9TH SEPTEMBER, 2018 IN KATSINA
Gentlemen of the Press, good day,
This weekend marked the one thousandth day since that gruesome massacre in December of 2015 in Zaria and the consequent unlawful detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and hundreds of his supporters. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, as we gather here, there is ongoing international protests to mark this travesty of justice in places including in the UK, USA, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Denmark, Switzerland, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Over a thousand days ago, the Nigerian government under Muhammadu Buhari, set out to completely destroy in whole the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, its leadership, membership and structures using its military against unarmed citizens. That was clearly demonstrated by the military personnel that repeatedly chanted “No more Shi‟ah” and other anti-Zakzaky slogans as they massacred women, children and all others in Zaria. It was also why they destroyed all properties of Movement, including schools and religious centers as well as desecrated grave yards where members of Movement were buried. They massively killed over a thousand members of the Movement, including those they had shot and injured but could not be taken to shelter. They burnt people alive as well as the corpses of those they had killed! Who would quantify the serious bodily or mental harm the unprecedented Zaria massacre had caused to survivors and their relations over the last one thousand days? Survivors further faced other shades of brutality. Hundreds were arbitrarily arrested and detained, some being wrongly accused with framed up charges. Many are still being kept in secret confinement without charges or trials. Many were denied appropriate medical attention and died in custody. Pregnant women had premature deliveries while in custody and some others suffered miscarriages.
The campaign to free Sheikh Zakzaky has been pursued globally from different angles over these thousand days. In the course of the campaign in the last one thousand days thus far, remarkable achievements have been recorded. We have continued to conduct our religious and other activities everywhere, even in the face of threats to our lives from government and its oppressive arms. We have defied all odds at obvious attempts at thwarting our efforts from outside and within. Majorly, we have resisted all attempts by the government to lure us into violence to facilitate the destruction of the Movement. We have successfully struck alliances with groups and individuals globally – men and women of conscience, as is evident in the campaigns to free our leader, being held in all continents of the World.
Perhaps it is on the legal front that we made giant strides in our quest to regain freedom for our leader. We secured a judgement at the Federal High Court ordering for the immediate release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife. The International Criminal Court at The Hague has also completed preliminary investigation into the Zaria incident, and it is viewing it as a possible crime against humanity. We have also been able to secure the discharge and acquittal of over a hundred of our members who stood trial on false accusations of culpable homicide levied against them by the government.
We have achieved much, but a lot more is yet to be attained. Our leader and his wife continue to languish in detention in spite of the court judgement to the contrary. They are now additionally facing false charges of culpable homicide in a Kaduna state high court, the very same charges that another Judge of the Kaduna State High Court had dismissed, then discharged and acquitted over a hundred of his supporters.
Sheikh Zakzaky’s health continues to deteriorate in detention. He had suffered stroke in detention earlier this year from which, without adequate medical attention, he is yet to recover. He was sighted wearing a neck collar to support his head since then. His eye condition, inflicted on him by the Nigerian army during the heinous attacks about a thousand days ago, has been deteriorating as well. He stands the risk of losing his sight completely should the government continue to deny him urgent medical attention. Similarly, his wife’s health condition in detention is very grave. She is made to bear the excruciating pains of moving about with shrapnel in her body since the army emptied their lethal guns into her about a thousand days ago.
Over a hundred more of our members remain in detention since a thousand days ago, also facing the very same false charges of culpable homicide. Another 600 others remain unaccounted for since then. Their whereabout is unknown, and it is believed that they are being secretly detained in underground detention facilities of the DSS.
The Kaduna state government of Nasiru El-rufai had admitted to burying a whooping 347 of our members in mass grave in Mando Kaduna. The exact identities of persons who met this cruel end remain unknown, and their relatives have not been contacted or comforted by the government.
Gentlemen of the press, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria continue to be persecuted at all levels of government. We are endangered people, who are being deprived of our most basic rights. In Nigeria today, we are denied our right to freely associate and peacefully protest. We are denied our freedom to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance without government influence or intervention. Above all, we are being denied our freedom to life at the slightest opportunity by this government!
As we mark the thousandth day of this travesty of justice, we demand and insist that the Federal Government and its agencies must release our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife unconditionally and immediately. Serial disobedience of court orders and contempt for the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of religion does not portray our country as one that is ready to manage its religious diversity in a way that strengthens the federation.
The Kaduna State government must discontinue its unjustified persecution of Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife and others facing spurious charges of culpable homicide at the Kaduna High Court on the wobbly ground. It must also take concrete steps to prosecute all those that carried out the heinous murder of over 1000 of our members and the illegal and unconstitutional burial of 347.
The Government must also desist from trying to infiltrate the Movement using fifth columnists and agent provocateurs. The Islamic Movement in Nigeria does not believe in violence or the use of violence to achieve its objectives. The Federal Government and the Kaduna State Government have been and continue to engage in provocative acts aimed at inciting the Movement to take to the path of violence in vain. We assure the Nigerian public that any act of violence attributed to us can only emanate from agent provocateurs being injected into the Movement by State Agents.
We wish to thank the human rights community and professional groups and organizations, including the press, for their support in this matter in the last one thousand days, and urge them to persuade the government to release our leader and his wife and withdraw all trumped up charges against them and others.
We urge the international community to persuade the government to obey the orders of court, and to release our leader unconditionally. We also appeal to the international community to commit Nigeria to upholding religious rights and freedoms, failing which the Nigerian government and its agents must be isolated and sanctioned.
We will continue to use all constitutional and legitimate means and avenues to drive home our points. These include the exercise of our rights to organize and practice our faith accordingly.
Gentlemen of the press, we are still in search of justice a thousand days and after. In that regard, our stance remains clear, our resolve unshakable and our tenacity unwavering.
Sheikh Abdurrahman Abubakar Yola
Chairman, Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee