27.10.97 ref: NIGERIA / COMMONWEALTH
NIGERIA STEPS UP OPPRESSION AS COMMONWEALTH REFUSES TO TAKE ACTION House of imprisoned Muslim leader raided during children’s lessons today, and further raid threatened.
The house of Mu’allim Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky, leader of the Muslim opposition in Nigeria, was raided today at 4.30 p.m. local time. Police forces entered the premises during the tuition of five of Al-Zakzaky’s six children (all aged under 12). Al-Zakzaky’s oldest son Muhammad (12) has previously been beaten severely by police forces. A further raid was threatened again without any reason, by police who arrested a passer-by for enquiring after the family.
The Free Al-Zakzaky! campaign strongly condemns the latest attempts by the Nigerian junta to brutally silence its opposition. Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh, said today regarding the Commonwealth Heads of Government:
“It is clear that the Commonwealth’s lack of determined action has given a green light to Sani Abacha’s regime to clamp down even more viciously against anyone it sees as a threat. In this case the threat was from six children and their mother. The Commonwealth’s actions after all its deliberations is disappointing in the extreme, and we call on individual governments to take a firm and principles stance in the case of Al-Zakzaky and all political prisoners.”
Al-Zakzaky and three others face charges of causing disaffection against the government. They were arrested in September 1996 and only charged in August this year. The publication of the statement by Al-Zakzaky that there is no sovereignty except through God, is the basis of the charges. Their trial, which was scheduled to resume last week, was postponed for another two weeks to allow the prosecution to bring further ‘evidence’ and charges against the four. IHRC sees this as yet another abuse of the judicial process by the Nigerian authorities who have been persecuting the Muslim opposition in Nigeria, and is calling for the unconditional release of all political prisoners of whatever racial, confessional or political background.