Buhari begs El-Zakzaky

  • Plans soft landing
  • DSS-DG leads negotiations

President Muhammadu Buhari has intervened in the controversial prolonged detention of theSheikh Ibraheem Yaqoub El Zakzaky, an outspoken Shi’a Muslim in Kaduna State, and his wife since 2016. The President, Presidency sources said, allegedly begged the El Zakzaky, with promise to initiate soft landing for his release.

The followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) which El Zakzaky formed in the 1970s have been on ceaseless rampage on the streets of Abuja, extending to Lagos in the past years, demanding the release of their leader. Their protests were reinforced by the various court judgments from the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal which granted El Zakzaky bail but the federal government continued to ignore the court orders and continued to detain El Zakzaky and his wife.

The Presidency sources revealed to National DailyPresident Buhari is seeking an end to the prolonged detention and government’s frequent undermining of court orders for the release of El-Zakzaky on bail. The sources said the President sent emissaries to the Shi’a Muslims leader, El Zakzaky, to appease him on the years of prolonged detention and assure him of the President’s resolve to seek amicable ways to end the impasse. The Presidency sources further said that the Director General of the Department of Security Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi, is leading the negotiation team meeting with El Zakzaky to find means to end the impasse with the IMN leader.

The sources said President Buahri is working out terms of soft landing for the release of El Zakzaky from the four years of prison detention. Details of what the soft landing for the freedom of the Shi’a Muslims leader were not given but intense negotiations were said to be going between the President and El Zakzaky.

National Dailyrecalls that Sheikh Ibraheem YaqoubEl Zakzaky was arrested with his wife in 2015 after the IMN members clash with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff in Zaria, Kaduna State, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, during a procession of the Muslim sect. The clash led to subsequent onslaught by the Army who turned the subsequent days to massacre IMN members in Zaria in their hundreds, according to report of an investigation panel in Kaduna State.

The surviving three sons of El Zakzaky were killed in the military onslaught.

The Shi’a Muslims leader in Nigeria was at different times a guest or inmate at the detention cells of the Nigerian government on accusation of civil disobedience even in the years of the military regimes in the 1980s into the 1990s. This phenomenon continued into the 2015 encounter.

The Nigerian Army raided El Zakzaky’s residence in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December 2015. He sustained serious injury while hundreds of his followers were killed. He has been in detention since 2016 despite being granted bail by the courts.

Shi’a Muslims had last week invaded the National Assembly, Abuja, demanding the release of their leader, El Zakzaky. The group forced the shutting down of the National Assembly and suspension of legislative proceedings.

Meanwhile, Nigerians watches how all the arrangements will play out at the resumed sitting of the court.