Muslim faithful loyal to detained Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, have begun a protest trek from Zaria in Kaduna state to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, a distance of about 265 Kilometers, to demand release of their leader.
Sheik Zakzaky has been detained since December 2015 when members of his sect clashed with a convoy of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Yusuf Buratai.
An inquiry into the clash which followed wide condemnation from Nigerians and Amnesty International, established that over 350 members of the sect were murdered by Soldiers and buried in a mass grave.
The sect members had earlier demanded unconditional release of their leader whom they alleged is being detained in conditions inimical to his health.
They also alleged that constant torture had ruptured one of his eyes in an alleged deliberate effort to blind him.
Meanwhile, a statement from the group signed by Ibrahim Musa, and made available to The UNION via email, alleged that members of the sect had unearthed a plot by security operatives to force a stop to the trek.
It claimed that security operatives are “planning to attack a handful of youths trekking from Zaria to Abuja demanding for the release of our Leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, who has been in illegal detention for the past eight months”.
“Details of this sinister plan show that the unsuspecting youths will be attacked by some unscrupulous security operatives as they approach Abuja and some weapons will be claimed to have been found on them. These security agents will then rush to town to accuse the Islamic Movement of planning to launch an attack on the Capital in a bid to forcibly release Sheikh Zakzaky.
“We will like to inform the general public that these young men and women that started their trek from Zaria, Kaduna state are peaceful in all their actions, and since last week when they started nobody has complained of them being a nuisance to commuters in any way along the expressway to Abuja.
“They decided to trek on their own volition just to buttress how aggrieved they are with the continued incarceration of Sheikh Zakzaky and to draw public attention to the inhuman condition he is being held without recourse to due process of the law.
“The Islamic Movement has continued to be peaceful in all its activities for the past four decades; therefore it is inconceivable for violence to be ascribed to it now. Any attempt to plant arms amongst us will not just work because it has never been our modus operandi in our path of calling people to justice in the path of Allah.
“Nonetheless we will keep on calling on the Federal government to as a matter of priority release our Leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and all others detained with him”, the group stated.