Islamic Human Rights Commission
12 March 2007
Alert Update: Nigeria – 16 of the 127 Detainees Have Been Released in Sokoto
On 6 March 2008, 16 of the 127 Shia members of the Islamic Movement, who were arrested and detained following the killing of Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya, were reportedly released after the Federal High Court in Sokoto granted them bail. The rest of the detained members are still awaiting trial since August 2007. Amongst those released were Alhaji Malami, Alhaji Na Madina, Alhaji Nura, Alhaji Junaidu, Malam Ibrahim and Malam Abdullahi Mai Faci. According to reports, the released detainees are in good health, but have no homes to return to as Sokoto’s local authorities have destroyed their homes.
After the killing of Sunni cleric Umar Danmaishiyya on 18 July 2007, Shia members of the group known as the ‘Islamic Movement’ and ‘The Muslim Brothers’ were collectively blamed for the killing by Sokoto’s local authorities. Subsequently, the police arrested and detained more than 100 of the group’s members. Since the assassination, many homes have been destroyed and many women and children have gone missing. Further, some members have been brutally murdered. All this was reportedly carried out by a combined force of federal military, state police and mobs under police protection.
It is reportedly believed by the Shia community of Sokoto that the local government had used the assassination of the Sunni cleric as a ploy to indiscriminately attack them. In weeks following the initial killing, the state government destroyed the group’s centre, clinic and school.
Although the state commissioner of the Nigerian police declared on the BBC Hausa Service that there was no evidence linking members of the Sokoto’s Shia community to the cleric’s assassination, the state government continued to collectively punish the minority sect.
127 members of the Shia group have been detained since 20 August 2007, following the Umar Danmaishiyya’s death, while none have been charged with killing or conspiracy to kill the cleric. On 3 October 2007, the home of Kasimu Omar, one of the Shia leaders detained, was demolished alongside three other homes. Interestingly, the official reason was the government’s plan to build a police station and clinic in its place. The trial for the detained members has been postponed several times since their detention.
The Nigerian judicial process in the country is reportedly one of the slowest in the world. Over 60% of inmates in their prison system are awaiting trial. They live with ordinarily convicted criminals and are regularly subjected to rape, torture and various other dehumanizing conditions. Many die while waiting to be tried.
For sample letters and detailed background information , please refer to our previous alerts about the crisis in Sokoto at: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2977 and https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2892
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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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