The daughter of Nigeria’s detained prominent cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky has warned about the government’s recent ban on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), saying it could worsen the crackdown on the members of the group and ignite a new conflict in the West African nation.
Last month, a court in the capital Abuja ruled that activities of the IMN amounted to “acts of terrorism and illegality” and ordered the government to ban the movement.
Zakzaky’s daughter Suhailah Maleshiya said on Saturday that this would allow the government to further suppress the Muslim group and push it underground.
“They’re trying so hard to get the Islamic movement to a point where we say, ‘that’s it, let’s defend ourselves and take up weapons’,” said Suhailah.
“Watching your brothers killed again and again would change how anyone thinks,” she told AFP.
IMN members regularly take to the streets of the Nigerian capital to call for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015. Nigerian forces have used live ammunition against the protesters.
Security forces killed at least 20 members of the movement during protests last month, according to a spokesman for the group.
Zakzaky, the founder and leader of IMN, was taken into custody after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.
The 66-year-old cleric has been reportedly poisoned in prison and requires urgent medical care abroad, according to members of the IMN.
Zakzaky founded the organization in the late 1970s in Nigeria, which has a population of an estimated 3 million Shia Muslims.