The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed recently declared that the federal government is spending an average of 3.5 million naira monthly as feeding allowance on the detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The Minister who made this assertion while addressing statehouse correspondents at the Presidential Villa would not have divulged this information had he known the level of outrage and backlash that would come with it. As expected, Nigerians have condemned what many believe to be obvious lies as it is highly unrealistic that the detained IMN leader and his wife will be consuming food items worth 3.5m Naira monthly while in detention.
With this in mind, it is important for the federal government to answer some salient questions in relation to the continued incarceration of the Shiites leader. Firstly, what exactly is El-Zakzaky and his wife’s offence? Secondly, why is the federal government still keeping them in detention despite several court judgments ordering their release? Thirdly, who is benefitting from El-Zakzaky’s continued detention?
These questions are pertinent as we approach the 2019 general elections. A moment of reckoning where Nigerians will have to decide if they want the continuation of an administration that has continually disrespected the Judiciary, an important arm of government, thereby giving rise to continuous human rights violation.
The crux of a society is justice and the adherence to the rule of law. The prolonged detention of the El-Zakzaky’s is an infringement on their human rights and a disrespect to the judiciary. The government can spend any amount to feed them, it is inconsequential when compared to their avowed freedom as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.