Amnesty International Urges Release El-Zakzaky

Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky
Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky

Amnesty International, AI, an international human rights organization, has called on the Nigerian government to release the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction in December 2016.

In a statement by AI’s media manager, Isa Sanusi, the group noted that Monday, January 16 is the 45th day since the court judgment was given on December 2.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the federal high court had ruled that the continued detention of El-Zakzaky by the Department of State Services,DSS, was unlawful, ordering  the federal government to release the Muslim cleric within 45 days and provide an accommodation for him, his wife and family members within Kaduna State or any part of the northern region.

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Sanusi’s statement quoted the Interim Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Makmid Kamara, as saying that “The 45-day deadline given for their release expires today.”

“If the government deliberately disregards the orders of its own courts,it will demonstrate a flagrant – and dangerous – contempt for the rule of law.”

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Kamara noted that El-Zakzaky’s unlawful detention “might be part of a wider effort to cover up the gruesome crimes committed by members of the security forces in Zaria in December 2015 that left hundreds dead.”

Amnesty International also noted that many other members of IMN were arrested alongside El-Zakzaky and have remained in detention without charge for over a year.The group recalled that more than 350 IMN members were killed by soldiers between 12 and 14 December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State.

It however added that the IMN, which is more commonly known as the Shiite Islamic sect, had organized processions, demonstrations and other activities, usually without obtaining the necessary permits and at times blocking public roads.

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These, AI said have resulted in various confrontation with the Nigerian authorities and strained relations with other communities.

Towards the end of 2016, the Kaduna State government under Governor Nasir El-Rufai outlawed the IMN, declaring it an unlawful society and banning all forms of procession by the group.