Gabriel Idibia, Kaduna
Again, members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites, Wednesday, embarked on peace protest against what it described as continuous detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Zakzaky has been detained by the federal government since December 2015.
The protester, mostly teenager, claiming to be orphans and widows of the sect, took to streets of Kaduna to protest the absence of their leader.
The protesters visited the Correspondents Chapel of Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) office in Kaduna with banners bearing different inscriptions and chanting “Free our leader”, “Free El-zakzaky”, “He needs medical treatment”, among others.
Abdullahi Mohammed, the spokesperson of the protesters, told journalists that their march on the streets of Kaduna is in connection to continuous detention of their leader who has been in the custody of Directorate of Security Service (DSS) since the December 2015 bloody clash between IMN members and men of Nigerian Army that left 348 sect members dead in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Also speaking, a young woman, believed to be speaking on behalf of a Zaria-based nongovernmental organization, AbdulFadI Foundation, Fauziya Saidu, said the protest would continue until their leader was released unconditionally to avail him the opportunity to seek good medical treatment.
She alleged that military personnel along Zaria-Kaduna road took several shots and photographs protesters on their way to Kaduna, the purpose of which they said they don’t know, but was quickly to add that no amount of intimidation from the Army could stop them from marching to Abuja and remained the place until El-Zakzaky, wife and other members of the sect are released from DSS custody.
According to her, “most of us here are widows and orphans. We are only demanding our leaders’ release for medical treatment. We will continue this march to Abuja and we will not leave until our Sheikh, his wife and others are released”.
“Although our leader and his wife are not being held in a prison cell, they are certainly not living in a comfortable state, nor are they ‘safe’. His health, specifically the health of his last remaining eye, which is already half blind.
“We call on those who believe in the adorable right of all human beings to fairness, justice and dignity, to help by joining us in our redoubled efforts. We must act before it is too late. Seriously, our leader needs access to doctors now.
“If they are really protecting our leader as their lawyers have claimed, then we would want to ask them what form of threat is the visit of family members, doctors, considering the impending and dangerous situation threatening to turn him blind, why are no doctors allowed?, she asked.
Contacted, Police spokesperson in Kaduna, ASP Aliyu Usman, said that the police is not aware of the protest, adding that the protesters did not write them either.