Few people could have anticipated that a routine trek for a group of Shi’ite Muslims and their leader Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in 2015 would devolve into a national crisis involving thousand of Shi’ite protesters, hundreds of death and public declarations of support from countries like Turkey.
In what is one of the biggest examples that arguments that the current Buhari led government takes decisions along religious lines is flawed, an altercation between the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has seen the group radicalized and on the cusp of becoming a religious extremist movement, and the government unwilling to dialogue with the government, obey the rule of law to release the organization’s persecuted leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky or address its use of force on formerly peaceful protesters.
But maybe, things are finally coming to a head.
It was recently announced that Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been held in DSS custody since 2015 without a formal charge, is finally being arraigned in court on the 5th of August 2019.
The court appearance is to allow judges to rule on the application filed on behalf of El-Zakzaky seeking bail so the leader can leave the country for medical treatment.
Reports suggest El-Zakzaky has been in ill-health since 2017 and has made previous requests for treatment.
Not to mention in 2018, the Federal government alleged it was spending 3.5 million monthly to feed El-Zakzaky, and refused to address the public outcry about this.
To forestall any public violence, the Kaduna state government (also recently accused of secretly arresting journalist Dadiyata), has banned all public protests, processions and demonstrations.
DSP Yakubu Sabo, the Kaduna State Command’s public relations officer gave the notice on the 4th of August, and threatened to ‘deal decisively’ with groups who choose to ignore the ban and protest for the release of the Sheikh.
While it is legal for the government at the Federal and state levels to institute temporary bans on public protests, this instance suggests the government is looking to justify violence against the protesters.
The IMN has ignored all attempts to stifle all attempts to deny them their constitutional right of public congress. We can only hope that with the world’s eyes on Nigeria in the wake of other national scandals, the Kaduna state police will act responsibly and deal with any public protests peacefully.