The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) says the country’s army is plotting to kill incarcerated top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky in a “staged” shootout.
In a statement on Wednesday, the IMN exposed a plan by the security agencies in Nigeria to kill Sheikh Zakzaky while in his detention facility.
The plot to kill the top cleric emanated from an exposed letter – titled ‘Plans by Islamic Movement in Nigeria to raid selected detention facilities in the country during the 2019 general election’ – sent to the office of the Inspector General of Police from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The IMN statement, signed by S. I. Shuaib on behalf of the Academic Forum of the IMN, said “on January 25, 2019, the office of National Security Adviser, wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Police, telling him some concocted lies that the Islamic Movement is planning to attack some selected detention facilities in the country during the 2019 general election.”
The IMN said in its statement that the army wants to stage the attacks via a fake Shia Muslim group against some detention centers including where they are keeping the prime target, Sheikh Zakzaky.
“That will give them the chance to frame a story that Shias attempted to forcefully free Sheikh Zakzaky and others, so there was an exchange of fire, and as a result they shot their leader,” the statement said.
The IMN stressed that it has always abided by law and will continue to do so.
The movement will only follow legal ways to secure Zakzaky’s release, it added.
The statement said all Nigerians and the rest of the world know that the Islamic movement is not armed, adding “this plot will fail.”
It also pointed to the killings of hundreds of IMN supporters by the army in 2015, and said at that time, the movement only filed a lawsuit against the perpetrators and never used violence.
Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, has been held in detention since December 2015 and was charged just in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty.
In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered his unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.
The top cleric, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a raid which was carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria in December 2015.
During the raid, Zakzaky’s wife sustained serious wounds too and more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed. Zakzaky, his wife, and a large number of the cleric’s followers have since been in custody.