PRESS RELEASE – Nigeria: IHRC condemns Sheikh Zakzaky’s arraignment before Kaduna court

From: Islamic Human Rights Commission

15 May 2018

PRESS RELEASE – Nigeria: IHRC condemns Sheikh Zakzaky’s arraignment before Kaduna court

IHRC strongly condemns today’s arraignment of Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and his wife by the state High Court in Kaduna.

The move is just the latest in a long line of blows inflicted on the sheikh designed to cripple the Islamic Movement of Nigeria which he leads.

The hearing today came after the pair were forcibly moved overnight from the capital Abuja where they have been detained illegally without charge for over two years by Nigeria’s security services.

Nigerian authorities seem determined to force Sheikh Zakzaky to stand trial on charges recently levelled against him. The sheikh had said he would not willingly attend the court to hear the charges, the most serious of which is punishable by death. The authorities allege that the sheikh and supporters of his group abetted the commission of culpable homicide when they blocked roads in the city of Zaria in December 2015.

In reality the charges seem to be designed to deflect government responsibility for a planned and systematic attack by soldiers on the Islamic Movement that left at least 1000 civilians dead in December 2015, an attack which is now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Today’s arraignment seems all the more ridiculous for the fact that the higher federal court had previously ruled the pair’s detention to be unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the government to release them by January 16, 2017 and pay compensation.

The continued persecution of Sheikh Zakzaky should also be seen in the context of his worsening health. Nigerian authorities are all too aware of the precarious condition of the sheikh, who lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm in the 2015 massacre and also suffered a stroke at the turn of the year.

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Notes to editors:

In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members.

Our report which we submitted to the ICC can be found online here

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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