Photograph credit score: The PUNCH
Muhammad Ibraheem Zakzaky is likely one of the youngsters of the chief of the proscribed Islamic Motion in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who alongside together with his spouse, Zeenah, have been incarcerated by the Federal Authorities since 2015. Muhammad tells GBENRO ADEOYE in an internet interview, his views about his mother and father’ incarceration, proscription of the organisation and allegations towards them
Your father, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, has been within the custody of the Division of State Companies since 2015, and never a lot has been heard of his case lately. What can you say concerning the progress of the case?
Final yr, the presiding choose was away for electoral tribunal obligation. It was throughout this time that his (my father’s) authorized group submitted an utility for medical go away to India. After my mother and father’ return from India, the presiding choose, Justice Gideon Kurada, returned to preside over the case. In the course of the first sitting, his authorized group complained to the choose that entry to their shoppers was being restricted. For this motive, the choose ordered the DSS at hand over my mother and father to jail authorities, an order which they promptly complied with. In the mean time, all official requests that the choose ought to proceed with the case have been ignored by the courtroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stories in February 2020 stated a excessive courtroom in Kaduna granted El-Zakzaky and his spouse, Zeenah, entry to their private physicians, have they been granted entry to their medical doctors?
Though the controller of prisons within the state initially imposed a number of obstacles within the first few months, we had been finally in a position to have their medical doctors go to them. And when the medical doctors required that they ought to be taken to medical services, this was additionally accomplished. Nevertheless, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical doctors suggested that no additional journeys to the hospital ought to be organized in the interim.
When was the final time you noticed your father, El-Zakzaky?
I noticed him a number of weeks in the past on the Kaduna Jail on Independence Manner.
What did you discuss?
I instructed him about present occasions since he has no entry to information from the skin world. And he instructed me about his wants concerning well being and private issues. I instructed him about new births and deaths within the household and those that concerned family members. I used to be not allowed to see him and my mom on the identical time.
How would you describe their well being circumstances the final time you noticed them?
When the Nigerian Military attacked us in December 2015, my mother and father suffered a number of gunshot wounds. My father misplaced a watch, and the opposite eye was additionally severely injured, affecting his imaginative and prescient to the purpose that he at present wants glasses with lens thickness of +10 in addition to a magnifying glass to learn. He has additionally suffered two strokes throughout his time with the DSS. In keeping with the medical doctors who carried out assessments on him, his blood additionally exhibits traces of lead and cadmium poisoning. That is the results of shrapnel embedded in his head and left hand.
He can the truth is be thought of to be legally blind. After the ultimate operation was carried out on his different eye, his imaginative and prescient deteriorated. Again then, the DSS refused to grant us entry to their medical outcomes regardless of making an attempt for months throughout which period they didn’t permit him to see a physician. Later, an unbiased ophthalmologist was lastly in a position to study him. The outcomes confirmed that his different eye was growing glaucoma. The attention strain has additionally been fluctuating erratically. Each circumstances include a excessive threat of irreversible injury that may result in blindness. He’s at present on treatment designed to stabilise the scenario, however his imaginative and prescient has not improved.
My mom was shot not less than 5 occasions and periodically suffers from extraordinarily painful episodes of stomach ache as a result of presence of massive bullet fragments in her stomach space, which ought to have been eliminated way back. She additionally suffers from superior arthritis and will have had knee alternative surgical procedure not less than three years in the past. The refusal of the DSS to permit the process to be accomplished has made her to nearly lose perform of her knees. It’s truly a miracle that she remains to be ready to face, although she is usually confined to a wheelchair.
However some Nigerians initially opposed their continued incarceration had been confused once they went to India and returned with out getting any remedy as a result of El-Zakzaky refused remedy over there. Shouldn’t he have accepted the remedy supplied if he was really sick?
Previous to our utility to have them go on medical go away, a group of medical doctors from exterior Nigeria had come and carried out thorough examinations on my mother and father. After finishing their examination, they wrote a complete report that included suggestions. Since three out of the 4 medical doctors had been Indians, they really helpful India for the checklist of procedures that had been wanted. Additionally they really helpful numerous hospitals in India.
The report and the suggestions had been submitted to the courtroom, which granted them medical go away, stipulating that the federal government ought to ship representatives for supervisory roles. Nevertheless, upon their arrival in India, the reception they bought was fairly hostile. First, they had been taken to the hospital underneath armed guard of the Indian police. Their medical doctors, who had additionally travelled to New Delhi to look at and supervise their care, had been denied entry to them. They had been denied even probably the most primary types of privateness such that anybody might merely stroll into their rooms and bathrooms which had had their locks eliminated. Additionally, the hospital well being staff appeared extra concerned with administering medication to them with out finishing up even a verbal examination. Naturally, my mother and father turned suspicious.
Apparently, we had been shocked on the pace with which officers of the Nigerian Embassy determined to purchase return tickets for them fairly than rebooking those already purchased by us. Finally, I consider that the authorities intentionally designed the journey to fail. It’s unclear what it’s that they instructed the Indian authorities and the hospital.
Underneath regular circumstances, once you go to hospital, you don’t count on a physician to easily come out with medication and needles with out a lot as asking what’s unsuitable with you. It’s also towards customary observe for a hospital to disclaim licensed medical practitioners permission to look at what they’re doing. When these medical doctors got here to Nigeria, they went to native hospitals and used native gear underneath the supervision of native Nigerian medical doctors. Nevertheless, on the Indian hospital, the medical doctors who’re additionally Indians, weren’t even allowed on the hospital grounds not to mention the ground the place my mother and father had been being held.
What do you consider the Federal Authorities’s proscription of the Islamic Motion in Nigeria and place that it’s a terrorist organisation?
This is only one in an extended line of shamelessly blatant acts of persecution by this authorities. The designation – IMN – was created by the regime of former Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) after December 2015, when the Nigerian Military launched an unprovoked assault on locations of worship, a cemetery on land owned by my father and my father’s home, amongst different places. In the course of the assault, over 1,000 folks went lacking, and about 300 folks, together with ladies and youngsters, had been later found within the custody of the military. The ladies and youngsters had been later launched however as many as 150 folks had been despatched to Kaduna Jail and charged with the homicide of 1 soldier, later proved to have been killed in what they known as pleasant hearth. Furthermore, not one of the accused individuals had been current on the scene the place the soldier died. But, they spent about three years behind bars. In the meantime, over 1,000 persons are nonetheless lacking. For the reason that incident, the Kaduna State Authorities has solely admitted to burying 347 of them in mass graves. After the December bloodbath, the state authorities demolished residences, companies and faculties owned by Shiites within the state regardless of being duly registered and licensed, and now we have paperwork to show this.
There have additionally been fixed harassment and arbitrary arrests of folks recognized as Shiites. Regardless of the hundreds of arrests, demolitions, looting and different acts of terror visited on the neighborhood over the last 5 years, the federal government has but to show a single case of crime dedicated by a Shiite or IMN member. Even final month, two individuals had been arrested in Zaria and slammed with numerous trumped-up prices in a Kaduna courtroom.
The narrative that IMN members are harmful, extremists, secessionists, perhaps even anarchists, was borne out of a want by this authorities to justify its atrocities and proceed with its persecution towards a neighborhood, easy and brief. You and everybody who disagree can verify all information shops and publications previous to December 2015 for any reference to an organisation that known as itself IMN. The acronym was designed by this administration to facilitate and assist impunity, and sadly, many individuals inside and out of doors Nigeria have been largely fooled by it. To me, IMN is nothing greater than a grandiose spooky acronym designed to allow mass oppression.
However many individuals, particularly in Kaduna and a few states have described you as fanatics, saying in these days, they may not go out throughout your processions as a result of the environment was often tense. How would you react to allegations?
The motion has been lively for over 40 years, and through all of the seminars, processions and in latest occasions, the protests towards the homicide and mass burial of over 1,000 folks and the destruction of properties and arbitrary detentions, there has by no means been any file of vandalism or violence. The problem is concerning the coverage of a authorities that’s decided to reply to any and all gatherings with brute power. For the previous 4 years, protests have been held throughout the nation and the one situations the place violence occurred needed to do with when the military, police and different arms of the federal government had been despatched to assault peaceable demonstrators with power. There have been circumstances, most particularly in Kaduna, the place native thugs had been armed and despatched to not solely assault protesters, but in addition ransack properties and enterprise shops.
The police and armed forces usually say they shoot at IMN members since you assault them throughout your processions and someday in the past, alleged that you just killed a deputy commissioner of police throughout a protest…
These accusations have been persistently repeated by them, however repeating it over and over won’t ever make it true. In December 2015, one of many justifications the military tried to make use of for its operation that went for days was that it was in response to an assassination try on the Military chief. Until date, the Buhari authorities has not been in a position to show allegations of unlawful possession of firearms by any member of the Shia neighborhood, or perhaps a fancily believable conspiracy to purchase them. Despite their finest efforts to this point, not even a credible hearsay exists of possession of weapons corresponding to these carried by the bandits and kidnappers at present roaming free within the northern states.
As for the latest case of the deputy commissioner of police, over 60 folks have been arrested and charged with the killing and are at present in jail. Nevertheless, because the case progressed over the previous months, their attorneys had been in a position to reveal fairly clearly that the person was shot from behind, both intentionally or by chance by one other police officer.
A number of suspicious issues have come to mild; first, the officer was buried some hours after the incident, which is towards customary process in such a case. Second, the overwhelming majority of these arrested weren’t even on the scene when the incident passed off. Third, he was shot from behind whereas talking with the protesters, a few of whom had been additionally hit together with the officer. Fourth, earlier than the accused had been charged to courtroom, they had been held by the Particular Anti-Theft Squad for weeks with none clarification, throughout which period a lot of them had been brutally tortured in an try and power them to incriminate themselves. It was solely after authorized representatives utilized strain that they had been transferred to jail after which charged.
What sort of particular person is your father?
Describing one’s father is definitely quite simple. He’s my father. It turns into difficult when he’s the sufferer of terrorism.
How did he elevate you and your siblings?
From once we had been all younger, he at all times performed an enormous function in our lives and took part in all of the processes of caring for us together with our mom; from bathing to feeding us, cleansing up after us, cooking, and many others. He at all times emphasised the significance of pursuing data and considering freely, to the extent that he would chorus from sharing his opinions on issues he thought we’d do in sure methods as a result of he stated so. Although he was at all times fairly busy more often than not, he made positive to make time to show every of us Islamic research, from jurisprudence to theology, historical past and lots of different issues. He even bought us a number of training, historic and entertaining books that we may be in. He additionally offered us with instructional pc programmes and video games.
How massive is your loved ones?
Should you imply his spouse and youngsters, then he’s married to Zeenah Ibraheem (our mom), who’s in the identical jail with him. He has 15 youngsters; 9 of them are his organic youngsters and the others are youngsters of buddies and relations that he adopted and raised.
What would you describe as his values?
He’s a person who lives by his phrases.
It was as soon as reported that three of his youngsters had been killed by the military or police, how did it occur?
That occurred in 2014 when a convoy attacked the rear of an in any other case peaceable demonstration marking the annual worldwide Quds day in assist of the Palestinian trigger. The ceremony has been happening all over the world for the reason that late 70s and early 80s within the final week of Ramadan. The convoy, led by a lieutenant colonel on the time, indiscriminately opened hearth. One in all my brothers, Mahmood, was amongst these killed on the spot. Three of my brothers, Ahmad, Hamid and Ali, who had pushed to the scene to attempt to strategy the troopers to diffuse the scenario, had been instantly shot together with others that attempted to intervene. The troopers then put them of their automobiles and took them to Basawa Barracks. On the barracks, Hamid was bayoneted whereas Ahmad bled out. After a number of hours, they took each the lifeless and the survivors, together with Ali, and dumped them in entrance of Ahmadu Bello College Educating Hospital at Shika, Zaria.
What have the clashes with police and armed forces, and the arrest of El-Zakzaky and his detention value the household as a complete in lives and properties?
Initially, so far as I’m involved, the phrase ‘conflict’ is inappropriate when talking of what occurred in December 2015; it was a sudden sudden assault by the Nigerian Military on a gathering accomplished yearly to kick-start the celebrations of the delivery of Prophet Muhammad. Wanting again now, I can say it was an aggressive and clearly predetermined case of mass homicide. The regime has value me six brothers. Despite the fact that the Nigerian Military did kill Ahmad, Hamid and Mahmood, at least we bought to bury them, and we had been promised a good inquiry. That was earlier than the Nigerian Military killed, looted and burnt our locations in December 2015. The military desecrated their graves. It additionally value the household a library of books and information, together with a set of manuscripts. Personally, probably the most priceless of those was a Quran written by my nice grandfather. Their lives are priceless to me. The books are priceless to the world. The fee is incalculable.
Does your father or the IMN have any hyperlink to Iran as the federal government has stated?
As a Shia, he’s a part of a spiritual neighborhood that exists in all international locations world wide. One of many 12 Imams (of Shia) was buried in Mashhad, Iran. It is a crucial pilgrimage website. So sure, my father has been to Iran, all Shia like to go to Iran. There are non secular, communal and ideological hyperlinks to Iran. All Jews, Christians and Muslims have a hyperlink to Jerusalem, a metropolis all of them care about. Catholics have a hyperlink to Rome, Italy; Protestants have a hyperlink to Bern, Switzerland; and Anglicans have a hyperlink to Canterbury, England, UK. As a Muslim, I’ve a hyperlink to what’s now Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Iran, amongst others. The Shia have a number of non secular hyperlinks to places and communities world wide. This isn’t and has by no means been against the law. The problem is that there’s a concerted effort to color my father as a level man on Iran’s overseas coverage in any respect prices.
One in all your father’s brothers, Sheikh Mohammed Yakoob, as soon as stated your father was lured to turn into a Shiite by Iran with cash, how would you react to that?
His identify is Mallam Sani Yakubu and he’s my father’s half-brother. I am truly by no means shocked, as he has a historical past of being exploited to make such allegations. Nevertheless, since he’s my uncle, I might fairly chorus from exposing him to ridicule. My father nonetheless has 4 different brothers and 4 sisters; any of them shall be higher suited to speak about him.
Who has been caring for your welfare and the welfare of your brothers and sisters since your mother and father have been in detention?
There are at present solely three out of 9 youngsters which have survived the massacres. I began work as quickly as I returned to Nigeria in 2012 and have by no means wanted to be taken care of. My sister, who is 2 years youthful than me, is a medical physician and has labored in two international locations. The one one not working is our youthful sister, who’s pursuing her college research.
Should you might meet the President, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) at the moment, what can be your request?
At this level, I’m unsure if there’s something that may be stated. It’s worthwhile to perceive that the present President got here to energy as a consequence of the goodwill and immense efforts of an enormous united part of Nigeria’s inhabitants in an unprecedented instance of individuals exercising their constitutional franchise. Nevertheless, from the start of his first time period as President, he has introduced nothing however disappointment, poverty, destruction and dying upon the very individuals who gave him his seat. The states with the worst circumstances of mounting poverty, insecurity and now starvation, occur to be the states the place he received probably the most votes.
All his marketing campaign guarantees again in 2015 occur to be the primary ones he broke. This catastrophic betrayal has solely bought worse after his controversial victory within the 2019 election for his second time period. Issues have gotten so unhealthy that even those that vehemently opposed the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan with the slogan of ‘change’ have since both regretted their roles or on the very least, fallen silent.
Is your father able to compromise to safe his launch if given some circumstances?
If you’re talking about my father, the query I’m positive he would ask is ‘what circumstances?’ My father has damaged no legal guidelines within the Nigerian structure, and freedom of speech and affiliation are rights he possesses as a citizen of this nation; the correct to life and personal properties are additionally assured.
Why do you suppose the Nigerian authorities actually arrested your father and has been unwilling to launch him?
I can’t say, and I favor to not speculate; this can be a query that ought to finest be directed at Buhari himself.
Some Nigerians ask – why is IMN unwilling to recognise a constitutional authorities?
This is likely one of the most absurd narratives which have been repeatedly pushed by this authorities and its extra cautious mouthpieces. The narrative is so fully absurd that I’m at all times at a loss as to how you can reply to it. We’re victims of a bloodbath by the Nigerian Military. It’s completely absurd to insinuate such grandiose claims as refusal to recognise constitutional authorities to those that have solely ever used constitutional means to handle probably the most unthinkable violations of human rights.
An arm of a ‘constitutional’ authorities dedicated against the law in violation of the structure; we took our ache and sorrow to the constitutionally sanctioned judiciary of Nigeria. That constitutionally sanctioned judiciary has again and again declared the actions of Buhari’s administration and his closely armed forces as unconstitutional.
Buhari has refused to obey the judiciary at will. The rule of legislation, which is a key a part of the social contract that’s the foundation of Nigeria, is brazenly being violated by an administration that controls the military, police, DSS and quite a few different armed our bodies that threaten, intimidate, kidnap and homicide Nigerians at will.
Buhari, his internal circle and all these concerned in his administration are those who don’t recognise a constitutional authorities. These concerned within the Zaria bloodbath and the huge cover-up of the crime dedicated by the military are those who present completely no respect for the Structure of Nigeria. Despite its many amendments, the regime of Buhari appears decided to tear the Structure of Nigeria and exchange it with a codified model of the type of Nigeria we reside in at the moment.
Supply: Sunday PUNCH