In the name of Allah Who states, “And think not that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only gives them respite till the day on which the eyes will fixedly stare” Q14:42
Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
This piece is on the recent development with regards to the ailing Sheikh (H), and his wife, who have been in illegal detention after the gruesome murder of their three biological sons, relatives and relations before them. However, the need to remind the world of the unfortunate massacre of about 1000 innocent peaceful Nigerian citizens is very obvious. Most surprising, was the fact these responsible citizens were murdered by the nation’s military who were constitutionally mandated to protect them. In addition to that, the insightful Sheikh and his wife and many disciples were apprehended and detained. From the incidence to date, about three and half years ago, they remain in custody. Since the unfortunate massacre, individuals and organisations concerned with dignity of human life from all walks of life across the world cry out in quest of justice. Continuously, the fundamental human rights of speech and expression are used to draw the attention of Nigerian authority and its foreign masters on the repercussion of the tyranny meted against the Islamic Movement especially in acclaimed democratic setting mandated to respond to the needs and yearnings of the citizenry.
The unanimous sympathy expressed to the unique scholar and the Islamic Movement, notwithstanding humanitarian nature, owes a lot to the Sheik’s responsible and insightful leadership widely known in the unity, peaceful coexistence and ethno-religious tolerance in Nigeria.
On the side of the Movement, rallies and peaceful protests were organised and supported by all justice loving people across the world. Although the calls fall flat on the ears of intended authorities, no matter how long, hope is never lost in the struggle for justice as there is always limit to oppression. Despite the contemptuous nature of the government to the rule of law, the Movement is optimistic on pending cases including that of International Criminal Court (ICC). It is not dismayed with the total disregard to the Justice Kolawale Abuja Court 6 verdict for his unconditional release, provision of a befitting house and security with a compensation of N50 million. Apparently, to many people in the country and beyond, Sheikh el-Zakzaky is, to a large extent, proportionate to Nigeria’s security and socio-economic well being. Since the unfortunate massacre, the demands of Islamic Movement apparently remain unchanged: unconditional release of the Sheikh, his wife and other detainees; handing over the bodies of the slaughtered and mass graved to the Movement for proper Islamic burial; compensation of the destructions made, and of course the urgent need to bring the mass murderers of peaceful and innocent citizens to book.
In the forty years of existence, the Movement was never found wanting in vandalism or bloodshed. The Sheikh is widely credited for unequalled role in the promotion of peaceful coexistence and ethno-religious tolerance. He is deeply concerned about the well being of the country and its citizens. On several times, his Movement was described as the most organised Muslim group in Nigeria. Allah states, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly For Allah, as witnesses To fair dealing, and let not The hatred of others To you make you swerve To wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is Next to piety: and fear Allah, For Allah is well – acquainted With all ye do” Q5:8
The Sheikh is well known for sincerity, broad mindedness on the practical teachings of Islam. He is particularly known for cordial relations with all. Basing his teachings on the Ahlul-bait perspectives, the Sheikh draws attention on the saying of Ameerul mumineen that “a man is either brother to you in religion or a partner in creation”. As such, he is the champion of Muslim unity, evident in his annual Unity week. He is famous in the face of fighting tyranny and oppression, for which he has been suffering untold hardship for the past four decades. He is apparently a sincere, honest and indefatigable Islamic scholar per excellence worthy of world respect. Pertinently, in the compendium of 13 speeches delivered at Najaf in 1970, Imam Khomeini stated; “The scholars of Islam have a duty to struggle against all attempts by oppressors to establish a monopoly over the sources of wealth or to make illicit use of them. They must not allow the masses to remain hungry and deprived while plundering oppressors usurp the sources of wealth and live in opulence”. He also said, “A clergyman should be such that when the people see him, they should remember the messenger of Allah (S). You have accepted this heavy responsibility and it is you that should guide this people to the end”.
Impressively, the Christian association of Nigeria (CAN), in their speech during a courtesy call on the presidency delivered by their representatives at the Villa sometime ago, most importantly advised the government among others on the urgent need to unconditionally release the ailing Sheikh and his wife. In addition to that, numerous people and organisations of high calibre across the world have also insisted on that continuously.
No doubt, they are worth listening to.
With the non response from the side of the government, endless questions are raised; on what ground was the Sheikh initially arrested? In whose interest is the detention of the elderly and ailing Sheikh, his wife and other disciples? What is the government’s stand on the Federal High Court verdict? Why shouldn’t government respond to the request of millions of Nigerians on the need to take him abroad for medication? And to what extent should the detention continue?
What is the stand of the government in the over one thousand Nigerians killed in the Zaria, Kano, and Abuja massacres evidently recorded and related incidences? This also exposes the lies of the so-called developed nations, especially UK and USA, which always claim to be at the forefront in protection and promotion of fundamental human rights across the world. What a double stand! If peace, unity and progress of this country were the uncompromising yardsticks to assess significant relevance of the citizenry, who can dare to compare his eminence, the indefatigable leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky with any scholar, politician or else in our contemporary history? Using my constitutional right as a concerned citizen that contributes his best to the progress of the nation in a multi-faceted dimension, I draw the attention of those in authority on the above subject as the unique Sheikh and his patient wife have spent over three years in detention in defiance of the Federal High Court order on their unconditional release. The indifference on the side of the government cannot help the country at all as justice is the key to the much-needed peace and stability, which the Sheikh unarguably symbolises.
In what the chair of the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, an august umbrella of about 30 Islamic and other nongovernmental organisations of Global network for justice, Masoud Shadgerah, described as late but positive response from authorities, was the assessment of the Sheikh and his wife’s health last week by foreign experts from India. He said if the government does well, this could be a starting point to the solution of the pending problem.
The assessment was consequent to the Sheikh’s lawyers’ incessant notice on their clients’ health in court sessions as known to all for which the judge mandated the assignment to ascertain health of the duo.
With help of Allah, the visiting consultants have successfully completed the assignment, having diagnosed multiple complications with the Sheikh as he lives with pellets in his remaining eye. His wife also has similar complications. The experts certified, as earlier observed that they obviously need medical attention from experts abroad. Immediately parts of the reports were made public, individuals and organisations have renewed their calls for urgent and unconditional release, most prominent is that of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN).
While appreciating the roles of all justice seeking and concerned individuals and organisations on the plight of the respected Sheikh (H), his disciples and indeed all other oppressed, I wish to emphasise the need for his immediate release.