NIGERIA FREES MUSLIM LEADER IHRC calls for the release of all prisoners of faith



For immediate release 18th December 1998

NIGERIA FREES MUSLIM LEADER IHRC calls for the release of all prisoners of faith

Mu’allim Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky, the leader of Nigeria’s Islamic opposition was released from prison today, over two years after his arrest. He and three others on trial with him known altogether as the Zaria Four, were arrested in September 1996 and held for nearly a year without charge.

Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh ,which has campaigned consistently since Al-Zakzaky’s arrest for his release, said:

“We hope that this is the beginning of the end of injustice against the Muslims of Nigeria. At one point we had over one thousand names of Muslim prisoners incarcerated at any one time under Abacha’s regime. Mosques, schools and houses of Muslims were destroyed by the authorities. Hundreds have been killed by Nigerian police, whilst participating in peaceful demonstrations.

“These releases are long overdue. We are at once happy at Al-Zakzaky’s release and disgusted that he and so many others were incarcerated in the first place. The campaign for his release was beset with difficulties: prejudice and lack of sympathy from some press and politicians was difficult to overcome. Thankfully there have been thousands of volunteers and campaigners around the world continuously advocating for the release of Al-Zakzaky and all prisoners from a Muslim background. IHRC thanks them for their tireless efforts.”

IHRC notes that hundreds of Islamists and others have been killed by the Nigerian authorities peacefully protesting for justice inside Nigeria and beyond. At this time it is worth noting that at least a dozen were killed in Northern Nigeria earlier this year when they were demonstrating against proposed air strikes on Iraq by US forces.

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