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NIGERIA: Fresh fears emerge for Free Zakzaky protestors

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IHRC is concerned about reports reaching us from Nigeria that the Buhari government is planning a “ruthless attack” on supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

According to information received from the organisation, a decision was taken at a recent high level security meeting to attack Free Zakzaky demonstrators in the capital Abuja.

Marches and vigils calling for the release of Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky have become a regular feature in Abuja ever since the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria was arrested in 2015 along with his wife after an army massacre of the organisation’s supporters. The persistence of the demonstrators has become a thorn in the side of the authorities who have often sought to stamp out the protests using deadly violence.

The latest threat to the protestors follows fears for their safety that were expressed in the run-up to last month’s general election. A leaked letter from the chief of Nigeria’s internal security service suggested that it was manufacturing a pretext to crack down on supporters and members of the country’s Islamic Movement ahead of the poll.

After holding them without charge Nigerian authorities are now trying the Zakzakys along with two other members of the Islamic Movement on trumped up charges relating to the massacre in the same year by the Nigerian military of over 1000 followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

In late 2016 a federal court ruled Sheikh Zakzaky’s detention and that of his wife Zeenah unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the government to release them by January 16, 2017 and pay compensation. That order was never implemented and the charges were brought against the couple in 2018.

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