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Opinion: The long and wrong detention of El-Zakzaky

By Oluwatosin J. Ologun

The primary figure and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (formerly Muslim Brothers), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky was illegally arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) at his residence in Zaria, Kaduna State in December 2015, and was detained without charges in this our dear country, which claims to be running a democratic system of government. 

The Nigerian government under the leadership of President Muhammad Buhari cannot account for the loss that the Ahmadu Bello University graduate has suffered from the Nigerian Army; El-Zakzaky lost three of his children to the 2014 protest, and lost another three in the 2015 massacre alongside hundreds of inhabitants — making six children out of nine — and many other injustice.

It is also expedient that I sight how the judiciary system has ordered the release of the Shi’ite leader; the High Court of Nigeria passed the judgement that El Zakzaky should be release from the DSS custody, he was also ordered to be released and to be paid a 50 million naira compensation, but the Nigerian government turned deaf ears to the court orders. 

In 2018, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed stated in a press statement that the Nigerian government is spending millions of naira on the detention of El-Zakzaky, a claim that was affirmed by El-Zakzaky himself in a video recording in India. The Shi’ites has protested when they were unclear if their leader is dead or unwell, protests that have claimed the lives of Nigerians.

The recent protest in July 2019 that claimed the life of Precious Owolabi, a young reporter under NYSC and that of a deputy commissioner of police, with other 40 people arrested. The government treasures the easy and tranquil arrest and detention of citizens that crave for an entire ‘change’ from the one the President Buhari-led administration promised in the 2015-election campaign.

The Nigerian government finds it gratifying and pleasurable to arrest harmless citizens than the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen that have claimed the lives of thousands of her citizens. More attention is given to these less harmful individuals than the ‘gods of death’ in Sambisa forest and the herdsmen that are rearing all over Nigeria.

Although the Nigerian government recently agreed to the medication treatment of El-Zakzaky in New Delhi in India, but let us face it, his long detention has done more harm than good to the Nigerian economy.

If we are truly in a democracy, the Nigerian government should heed the order of the court by releasing the Shi’ite leader. In addition, if our government choose to be adamant then the long detention of Sheikh El-Zakzaky is wrong and undemocratic. This also includes the long detention of other well-meaning Nigerians that have been arrested and detained without charges or trial.

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