Shiites: How The Iran Backed El Zakzakys , The IMN Leader Played Into Buhari’s Hand

By Suleiman Umaru

 Unti his arrest and  ongoing trial at the  Kaduna state which   started, in May 2018,   the Department of State  Security , DSS, and other security agencies Operatives , had beamed their searchlight on  the  Islamic State of  Iran backed Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, popular, the Shiites  led by Sheikh  Ibrahim  El-Zakzakys to forestall further street protests because of their violent activities. 

The IMN leader , according to security reports  was standing trial   over allegations  of palpable  homicide , unlawful Assembly  and disruption of public peace in which scores of people  have been killed .  The Islamic  group  which operates like the Islamic Funamentalist  group,  Boko Haram   in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe problem may have  started  after the  violent clash  with military   in Zaria, in 2015, in Kaduna state , before it was proscribed  by Nasir El- Rufai,  the governor  The Shiite members  case was made worse in  in December 2015,  when  the Army raided his residence  in Zaria , allegedly killing  scores of his followers. He was arrested and detained, forcing many of his followers to relocate and  operate underground at  Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

 Worried that  the IMN group may turn out to be another  bone on the neck of the government because of the recent  violent Clash  with security operatives at Abuja, officials of the ministry of Justice at the instance of the Presidency  had rushed  to Court where it obtained an ex parte Court  Order  on Friday , July 27, 2019,  which  gave the government  power  to proscribe   the Moslem Group believed to have been operating  over the years   as a terrorist Organisation.  

As a prelude to the actual  implementation of the Court Order, the legal drafting Department of the ministry were said to have prepared the legal framework  for the Katsina state born Nigerian President   by  publishing the Court Order into an official gazette. The gazette would give the government   the legal backing to proscribe the group as it did to the Indigenous People State Of Biafra, IPOD AND the Islamic Fundamentalist , Boko Haram, operating in the north eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe .

Ibrahim El-Zakzakys: The Shiites Leader Still In Detention

Political watchers fear that that Court  Order  may give  the military  Authorities the ammunition  to deal decisively with the IMN  members, popular, the Shiites,  anytime they take to the streets to protest against the continued detention of El-Zakzakys, their leader and Zinat, the wife.  A recent Statement by the Presidency   that the military Authorities  are now free to apply maximum  force  to stop the violence  being unleashed  by the  IMN members  on defenseless  Nigerians speaks volume.  

Shehu Garba, a  Senior Special Assistant , SSA, to the President ,on Media and Publicity, in an interview with Channels Television,   noted that by the Court Order Proscribing the Sunni Moslem Islamic group,   the ‘’ Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria  are justified  to take whatever  steps  are necessary  to stop  the growing violence’’ being unleashed on innocent Nigerians ’’. The Presidential spokesperson,  however,  disclosed that  not all the  Shiite groups  were affected by the proscription Order’’, stating that ‘’law abiding followers of the Shiite faith  are free to carry out their legitimate  religious activities in any part of the country  without fear of harassment by security operatives’’.

Garba may have  spoken the mind of the President  who believes  that   the Shiites  have no reason to  embark on street protests  as the case of El Zakzakys,  their leader  could only be handled by the Court and not  through Presidential fiat.  ‘’As far as the country’s laws are concerned  , the case involving  El- Zak zaky  was  no longer  within the powers of the Presidency to handle’’, he had said.

Given that  the  President  may not want to  interfere with the ongoing trial of the Shiite leader, the followers may have resorted to plan  B, since street protests had failed to force the government to release him but  to go through the Court process.  

The group  had engaged the services of   Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, to apply to a High Court  to secure permission for El Zakzakys and and Zinat, his wife, to travel  to the Asian country of India  for treatment.  The argument of  Falana, their Lawyer was that’’ since their detention in December  2015, the Kaduna state government had not given adequate  medical attention to them’’ thus leading to the deterioration  of their health condition.

He lamented  that the pellet of bullets  pumped into the Shiite’s leader  body by the trigger hungry  military  personnel  during the raid of his  private residence in Zaria,  over the last  three and half years  are yet to be fully removed.

 According to the SAN, the pellets had resulted to ‘’lead poison which needed to be urgently removed by highly professional medical experts  from  India.  The Lagos based Lawyer’s argument  may not  have made a head way to convince  the government  legal team to support  their demand for the trial Judge to grant their request  to travel to India for treatment. .

Dari  Bayero,  Director of Public Prosecution , DPP, may have  dashed the hope of  the Shiites legal team   to facilitate the release of their leader  for  oversea medical attention  when he  disclosed that his team   had  examined  the eight medical  reports by  both Nigerian and foreign Doctors that had accompanied  the IMN’s leader Lawyer’s  application for permission to travel abroad for medical attention  but could not find  any  reason to support it.

The DPP, insists   that there was  no basis for the El Zakzakys  Lawyers to seek for permission for  him to travel to India for medical attention as ‘’there are several  medical facilities  in the country that can  handle  his medical needs and that of the wife. Recall that  the Court had on January  22, 2019,  ordered the Kaduna state government  to avail  the  IMN leader  and his wife, , Zeenat,  who was also in detention , access to  medical care. But that was how far the Judge could go.

Meanwhile, Darius  Khobo, a Justice of the Supreme Court and the presiding  Judge,  was said to have granted the request of the  Kaduna state government  to review and respond  to  the Shiite leader’s application for bail, but nobody  knows the nature of the review. The  Shiite leader’s bail hearing  was said to have resumed  barely three days  after  a Federal High Court at Abuja  granted  the government  the power to proscribe  the IMN group.

Already,  the  Kaduna state High Court Judge  handling the El-Zakzakys case  had set Monday, August 5, 2019, to rule on the bail application filed  by the Shiite leader  and his wife, Zeenat.  Falana, the Shiite leader’s Lawyer , was said to have applied for the bail  on July 18, 2019. There are fears that   El Zakzakys International Passport may be seized  by  Security Operatives  if the government goes ahead to proscribe the group before the Kaduna High Court delivers  Judgment on his bail application by his  legal team. The husband and wife  may not  be  the first to  be treated as such if it happens.  Sambo Dasuki, a retired Colonel and a  former National Security Adviser, NSA,  to erstwhile President Goodluck Jonathan  have not been able to travel  abroad   for medical treatment despite  several Court rulings  urging the government to allow him to  travel abroad  for medical attention  over the last  four years His case may have been made worse as the DSS which  seized his Passport  on the orders of the Presidency , thus making it   impossible for him to travel out of the country   despite his failing health.

This is bad news for El Zakzakys and  Zeenat, his wife, who may  have   to forget about travelling to India for medical attention as  the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, government  headed by  Buhari, would never allow  them to travel outside the country  to avoid  giving them room to escape even if the Court ggrants  their bail application  to travel for oversea  treatment.  The government, according to  sources regard , El-Zakzakys and the wife  as VIPs in security Custody who  could not be easily let off the hook because of the security implication.

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