Over 2,000 Nigerians have taken part in a protest rally calling for the release of prominent Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. The protesters gathered on Wednesday in the capital Abuja and marched from the National Mosque to the Federal Secretariat chanting slogans in support of Zakzaky’s release and condemning his illegal detention, which has lasted for nearly nine months.
“We are calling for them to release Zakzaky immediately without any conditions attached and for them to pay for” the destruction they brought upon the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Muhammad Ibrahim Gamawa, a member of the movement said. On December 13, Nigerian forces raided the house of Sheikh Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him, including one of the movement’s senior leaders and its spokesman.
The raid occurred a day after Nigerian soldiers attacked Shia Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city of Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him. On August 1, the Islamic Human Rights Commission released a report, saying the Nigerian army killed 348 Shia Muslims during the attack on the religious ceremony.
The Sheikh himself, who was shot seven times during the attacks and blinded in one eye, still remains in army custody with no charges filed against him. Despite a Nigerian law which requires that charges be brought in court within 24 hours of an arrest, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari refuses to order Zakzaky’s release.