Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as the Shi’ia Islamic sect, have described President Muhammadu Buhari and Senate President Bukola Saraki as criminals for the continued detention of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the sect, since December 2015.
In a video that has gone viral on the social media, a large crowd of protesters carrying El-Zakzaky’s picture was seen sitting at the gate of the National Assembly complex, chanting songs.
“President Buhari is a criminal. Lawal Daura (Director General of DSS) is a criminal. (Bukola) Saraki is a criminal. Yakubu Dogara is a criminal. Abubakar Malami is a criminal,” the protesters chanted.
They would later change their chants to “illegal detention is injustice”.
It is not immediately clear when the video was shot, but members of the IMN have held several protests in Abuja, asking the Federal Government to obey the court ruling ordering the immediate release of El-Zakzaky.
Many of the protests have been met with harsh treatment from the police and other security agencies who usually dispersed the crowds using tear gas and water canons, ad sometimes, live bullets.
Watch the video below.
Youths from Northern Nigeria chant “President Buhari is a criminal” are the masses about to revolt against these #FantasticallyCorrupt Nigerian Politicians❓@john_danfulani @stjudendukwe @NGRWailers @AgorasBlog @NkemdiMary @The_Jonathanian @DeclanIfeanyi @UNHumanRights @KenRoth pic.twitter.com/GYjqJ0m95l
— Amaka Ekwo (@Amaka_Ekwo) April 1, 2018
The Federal Government says El-Zakzay is not in detention, rather he is being kept in voluntary custody for his own protection.
“Government has a responsibility to ensure his safety. He is not in a prison type of detention. He is in the company of his wife and children voluntarily. Government is being compassionate on this matter. There is an overall public good that government is looking at in this matter,” Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman told journalists in May 2017.
El-Zakzaky’s arrest and subsequent detention followed a deadly clash between members of the IMN and soldiers, in December 2015. More than 300 of the Shi’ia Muslims, as well as one soldier, were killed in the clash, according to a panel of inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government to investigate the crisis.
Consequently, the state government declared the IMN an unlawful organisation, adding that anyone who takes part in their activities commits an offence.