4 April 2019
Massoud Shadjareh, the Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) was a guest on the Iranian state-owned Press TV programme, Africa Today discussing the continued detention of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, the leader of the predominantly Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).
Zakzaky has been held by Nigeria’s Gestapo – the Department of State Services (DSS) since December 2015, following a raid of his compound in Zaria, Kaduna State by the army, in which the IMN claim over 1,000 people, including women and children were killed. Zakzaky and his wife sustained injuries during the raid and have allegedly been denied crucial treatment. An official inquiry into the raid concluded that 348 people were killed and buried in mass graves by Nigerian soldiers. But no one has been prosecuted for this atrocity.
Shadjareh said that, according to Wikileaks, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was under “pressure” from Saudi Arabia to curtail the influence of Iran in Africa. Iran is predominantly Shia and is widely seen as one of the IMN’s backers. The majority of Nigeria’s Muslims, including Buhari, are Sunni, as is the Saudi royal family.
Watch the programme below:
The other guest, Chidi Nwaonu, a security consultant, claimed that Zakzaky was seen as a threat to Nigeria’s Sunni elite and they have tried to either “co-opt or destroy” the Shia leader.
Zakzaky’s daughter, Suhaila, said she hadn’t seen her parents for about two years. The Nigerian authorities have denied them medical treatment despite court orders granting them bail and access to treatment. They are being held under charges of “culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of public peace”.
However, the case against the couple has been postponed indefinitely. Shadjareh believes this is part of the Nigerian regime’s tactics of keeping Zakzaky in jail, while avoiding trial, because they know he is innocent of those charges. Shadjareh also claimed that the Nigerian army has been trying to provoke the peaceful IMN into resorting to violence from when they killed three of his sons in 2014.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has begun preliminary investigations into the massacre of Shia Muslims by the Nigerian army.