Abdulmumin Giwa is the National Secretary of Media Forum, Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). In this interview with LEADERSHIP FRIDAY, he said the movement is demanding an unconditional release of Ibrahim El- Zazzaky because the court has ordered for his release, and also spoke on the current situation of the movement in the absence of its leader, among others. Excerpts
What is the IMN all about?
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria is a movement convened for the purpose of practicing the teachings of Islam. There are a lot of misinterpretations about the movement owing to persons that might have joined or developed sectarian activities. The Movement sends a vital message or information to our own immediate environment. An illustration, is the movement in Nigeria, we extend the message of fairness to all, irrespective of religion, region or tribe.
Based on the Movement’s basic concept that every human being is either your brother in faith or humanity, as a result, you can see many people come from different sections of our society to participate in our activities despite the fact that they are not members of our movement. In fact, there was a Mr Chukwu among those killed in Zaria in 2014 when procession was attacked, alongside three sons of our leader. For someone to give his life for such a cause, it means it is something that our society needs, because our society has moved far away from what it should be.
The allegation that our leader, Zakzaky is stubborn, is not true. It is rather a case of those in power wanting to use influential people for their own interest. Our leader is not ready or willing to sell his own ideas and so they saw him as an enemy and clamped down on him, hence the reason for the constant attacks on our leader.
What specifically is the group doing now legally or otherwise on this matter?
We had contacted a lot of pressure groups and international human rights organisations like the Amnesty International, which conducted its own private investigation. We also invited the Human Rights Watch, and Islamic Human Rights Commission in London, among other individuals who investigated the issue on their own. The Human Rights Watch called on the Nigerian Army to come clean on the genocide they committed. A lot of things went out to the public, particularly propagandist messages to convince people that the killings were in order. But we didn’t sit back, we did our part through our Free Refugees Campaign Committee, taking up the legal aspect of the issue. Thereon, we contacted Mr Femi Falana and his team, and took the matter to court, seeking the interpretation of the law concerning the fundamental human rights of the Sheikh. The case lasted one year. Then, in December 2016, the court arrived at the decision that the Sheikh be released immediately, and a residence of his choice be provided for him within 19 states of the federation. He should be paid N50m – N25m to him, and another N25m to his wife, alongside providing security for him, since the Army claimed that he is in danger. These were the verdicts of the Federal High Court. Justice Kolawole, who presided over the case and read his judgement, gave them about 40 days to attend to the aforementioned demands, but they acted in contempt of the court and refused to obey the court order, failed to explain what they said the Sheikh had done and could not justify the killings of over 1000 persons who died at the hands of the Army. The case caused a lot of embarrassment to Nigeria globally, with people protesting in India, Turkey, America and London. After that, we kept on protesting, and in the process of protesting, many have been killed. A lot of things happened in Kaduna where they came up and attacked, demolished a lot of our schools in the state. The state governor is directly fighting the IMN. He even said at some point that he has banned IMN. Is it possible to ban someone’s religion? Does he have the right to decide what religion people should practice?
Why have you embarked on a weekly procession at the Unity Fountain in Abuja?
We are not exactly holding a procession at the Unity Fountain, what we do is street actions, while we are protesting. We have protested in Kano and Sokoto. We are being tagged as terrorists and violent, yet we are the ones following the law while the authority is violating the laws. If there is anything wrong, why can’t they take us to court? They can’t do so because they don’t have any case against us. I wonder why Nigerians would sit still and watch such injustice continue.
Imagine, the Senator of our zone, representing Kaduna North, where the massacre happened. He kept silent throughout this time, and was further swallowed up by injustice two years later. The same perpetrator of the events turned on him by bulldozing his house. We musn’t keep quiet, when we see injustice being meted out. That is why a lot of people, not members of the IMN, are speaking out.
At a point, a concerned Nigerian group organised a permanent sit-out at the Unity Fountain. We are in solidarity with what they are doing and that is why we participate. We are not the direct organisers of the sit-out. We only participate.
What is the purpose of the sit-out?
We are calling for the immediate and non-conditional release of the Shaikh from illegal detention, because the court has ordered for his release, and we want President Buhari’s administration to obey the court’s order. It was during one of these protests that Sheikh Kassim, head of the Sokoto Islamic Movement, was shot in the leg by the policy, and he died three days after. Our message to the people is that they should lend their voice to the call for the freedom of our leader. To us, that is the only thing that can bring peace, progress and development to the nation. They cannot continue to keep him in detention, or continue to suppress him, denying him his fundamental human rights, or torture him, despite his urgent need for medical attention. If Nigerians see anything wrong in this case, they should speak out against it.
Tell us about the Martyrs’ Foundation?
The Shudada or Martyrs’ Foundation, was established by Shaikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky in 1991. The Foundation is saddled with the responsibility of seeing to the general welfare of Martyrs’ families, especially in the pursuance of moral and academic excellence, and hitherto victim of oppressive attacks. The Foundation receives humanitarian donations for the execution of its numerous assignments.
Based on statistics, the Foundation has about 4000 dependents consequent to historic state aggressions on peaceful citizens, most notably, the Zaria. Guaranteeing the welfare of the large number of families affected, and related activities, are very challenging. Out of credible and insightful leadership, the Foundation was established in 1991. Saddled with the responsibility of seeing to the general welfare of martyrs’ families especially in pursuance of moral and academic excellence and hitherto victims of oppressive attacks, the Foundation receives humanitarian donations for the execution of its assignments
On periodic basis, the Foundation organises programmes in honour of the martyrs with a grand annual, tagged “Day of the martyrs” in Rajab, the seventh month of Islamic calendar.
The Foundation is very disciplined and focused towards achieving its aims and objectives, so as to have a lasting impact. Some of these aims and objectives are: providing orphans with necessary assistance, both (material and spiritual) with specific reference to children of Shuhada (including victims of natural disasters and social upheavals, prisoners etc); establishing schools from nursery to tertiary institutions – Universities, Polytechnics and School of Health Technologies; providing such orphans with scholarships at all levels of their education; creating and funding research in institutions, in fields which will be beneficial to humanity; providing adequate health facilities from basic health facilities to the highest possible medical facilities available at any point in time; acquiring land, developed and undeveloped, so as to provide orphanages, residential estates, schools etc; establishing organisations which will be solely responsible for making and publishing of Textbooks, periodicals, journals, Newspapers in areas deemed necessary by the Foundation; establishing good electronic and satellite media outfits; creating a conducive atmosphere for interaction, cross-fertilisation of ideas and co-operation with similar foundations and other organisations; organising and participating in seminars, conferences, workshops, within and outside the country; soliciting for and receiving donations in cash or kind from individuals, governments and NGO’s; investing part of the funds realised through the above-mentioned sources in companies; shareholdings; bonds etc, the proceeds of which shall be used in running the activities of the foundation
The Chairman of the Foundation, officially registered as an orphanage, draws the attention of the Shaikh’s disciples and well-wishers on two significant aspects, namely Shuahada dues and their families’ general welfare. The monetary donation is used to support in moral upbringing of the martyrs’ families especially educational acquisition. Remarkably, of the martyrs’ children, none is out of school. In fact, all that attain school age are taking lessons at various levels from primary to university. But for the Foundation and the unrelenting effort of the committed followers of the Shaikh, some of the families might be equated to those in the IDPs camps. In view of the incessant remarks of the Chairman and his lieutenants, the need for generosity to the cause of these families in both cash and kind, cannot be overemphasised.
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