8 March 2019
Followers of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, the leader of the predominantly Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), protested in front of the United States embassy in Abuja yesterday, claiming that the US was “promoting terrorism” in Nigeria by backing the Nigerian government’s brutality against Shia Muslims.
Zakzaky has been in detention since December 2015, following a raid of his compound in Zaria, Kaduna State, by Nigerian soldiers. An official inquiry into the raid concluded that over 300 men, women and children were killed during that raid and buried in mass graves.
The Shia are a minority among Nigerian Muslims, with the majority being Sunni, including President Muhammadu Buhari, army chief Tukur Buratai and Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State. The protesters held placards with messages such as “Nasir El-Rufai is a criminal” and “We know the role US played during Zaria massacre”.
The Buhari regime has ignored several court orders to release Zakzaky on bail. He has since been charged with “culpable homicide and illegal assembly”. However, the military commander in Kaduna State whose troops were involved in the Zaria massacre, has not been charged as was recommended by a Kaduna State government inquiry.
At least 45 Shias protesting in Abuja against Zakzaky’s continued detention were killed by Nigerian security forces in October last year.