El-Zakzaky: Seeking Justice 2000 Days After, By Najeeb Maigatari

Has Nigeria, since its return to democracy, witnessed a gory violation of human rights as heartbreaking as in the case of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria? The brutal manner with which the ailing sheikh and his wife are continually being oppressed is inconceivable.

Away from freedom, away from their family and away from justice: they now have clocked 2000 days in illegal detention. This is, again, in flagrant violation of the order of a competent court of the land to effect their release since December 2016.

Under the pretense of road blockade to the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai (rtd), the sheikh was attacked in his residence – several kilometers away from the position of the ‘alleged road blockage’ where over thousand defenseless citizens were killed in cold blood.

The sheikh and his wife were severally shot at a very close range, thereby sustaining fatal injuries of varying degrees, before being dragged over the dead bodies of their three biological children who were extrajudicially killed before their eyes.

The couple, arrested since December 2015, have been in the custody of State Security Services and held incommunicado, before being moved to Kaduna correctional facility despite their deteriorating health condition that needs urgent medical assistance.

The sheikh is still suffering from various life threatening health conditions. For instance, he reportedly suffered from a deadly stroke the aftermath of which he still feel till date. The story is no different for his wife Zeenah Ibraheem, who is now reportedly confined to wheelchair as she can no longer walk on her feet.

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All these were as a result of the refusal to offer adequate medical attention to the couple in the detention facilities (in both DSS custody and KDCP). It could be recalled that in 2019, they were flown abroad to seek medical attention, but had to abort the trip without being treated at the lung run.

It is obvious that the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife is “illegal” and by far “unconstitutional”. There is no justification, whatsoever, for their detention. It is a clear violation of their every right as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria; the right to life, right to personal liberty, right to dignity of human person, etc.

There have been numerous calls from clergymen and people of conscience, well meaning Nigerians, international human right organizations, and peace- loving individuals across the globe; peaceful protests within and outside the country, urging the Nigerian government to release the sheikh and his wife. But the government has turned deaf ears to these calls.

Whether the government will do the needful, to at least allow the ailing sheikh and his wife proper access to medical care, remains to be seen, but one thing is glaringly certain: Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife are oppressed, innocent, peace loving individuals; therefore seeking their freedom is a moral duty to all and sundry.

Maigatari writes from Dutse, Jigawa state, via Maigatari313@gmail.com

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