Nigeria’s government has silently kept a beloved religious and political leader and scholar in prison, along with his wife, for years, despite government court orders to have him freed. Shaykh Ibraheem Zakzaky is the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and has been a thorn in the side of the Nigerian government as Shaykh Zakzaky has frequently critiqued the rampant injustices of the government. He has been imprisoned since December 2015 when the Nigerian forces attacked a peaceful gathering of IMN, wounding and killing a total of over 1,000 followers. It was clear to have been a premeditated attack, and has since seen little to none media coverage.
“Since the inception of the movement, we have been having clashes with the authorities. In fact, Shaykh Zakzaky himself has been imprisoned nine times in different years. The main accusation against him has been that of disregarding authorities and government. The last charge of 1996 was that Shaykh Zakzaky had said that ‘there is no authority except that of God,’ (and) that he’s trying to create a similar Islamic revolution on the path of Imam Khomeini. The court at that time, in 1998, acquitted him of all the charges,” said the President of the Media Forum, Shaykh Ibrahim Musa.
Several of Shaykh Zakzaky’s sons were allegedly killed at the hands of government forces prior to his and his wife’s arrest, but it appears now, his own life is between this world and the next.
According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission, “In January this year a judge presiding over the trial of Sheikh Zakzaky ordered that he should be allowed to receive medical treatment from doctors of his own choosing.” However, the condition of the couple has only worsened, and now, serious questions are being asked about how long they will live.
In an urgent cry for help from one of his children, Mohammed Ibraheem Zakzaky, states that Shaykh Zakzaky’s death is imminent:
“This Saturday the 6th of July 2019, I met with my father and my mother. As has already been stated to the public before, my father was found to have unusually excessive and life threatening concentrations of lead and cadmium in his blood. As a result of this various experts we have consulted recommended immediate hospitalization in a properly equipped facility and other medical procedures in order to try to save his life. This was over a month ago, yet nothing has been done to date,” his son, Mohammed Ibraheem Zakzaky has said in a public statement. “Based on all that I have heard from medical experts over the past week, it is with a heavy heart that I decide to say this, but the time frame during which anything can be done to save their health has virtually run out. There is also at this time nothing that I can cling what little hope I have left on. This has always been an assassination in progress, and it is almost done. And the assassins are clearly determined to see it through,” he stated further on July 7th.
It is imperative that the world holds any government responsible for the death of innocent life. Nigeria needs to backtrack on all the terror they have caused the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and its leaders, including Shaykh Zakzaky and his family by immediately freeing him and his wife and releasing them especially to medical care. Further actions are needed from the government, but at the time being, there must be an outcry for the life of the Shaykh to be protected. It is not just that we sit idly by and let governments trample the civil rights of their citizens due to their religious beliefs.
In May of this year, the Islamic Human Rights Commission submitted a report to the United Nations noting the violent crackdown on behalf of the Nigerian government on the Islamic movement. Results have yet to be seen from that submission.
Action Steps –
Sign the petition here to free the Shaykh
Join the global Twitter storm this Friday, July 12th
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We will be updating this article with more action steps if necessary and provide links to future updates on Shaykh Zakzaky’s condition.