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Shiites fault minister on U.S. watch list, El-Zakzaky’s trial

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The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has said Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed’s comment that Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky is being held for crimes and not for religious reasons is not true.Reacting to the minister’s response to the United States (U.S.) placement of Nigeria on a watch list of countries that encourage religious violence and stifle religious freedom, the IMN said Mohammed had told Nigerians that El-Zakzaky was being detained for his own protection as against committing any crime.

In a statement issued yesterday by its President of the Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, the group said to justify El-Zakzaky’s detention, Mohammed had earlier told Nigerians that he was still being detained because no one wanted to be his neighbour.

“The minister had also once said in a television feature programme that the courts do not have the full picture and so government will not abide by the court ruling on El-Zakzaky. “The same Mohammed also lied about how much the government was spending to feed El-Zakzaky,” the statement reads.

The IMN also said the injustice being meted to the group and its leadership was based purely on their religious belief.According to the Shiites, “The constant change in position betray a government that is pursuing some ulterior religious motives, which Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court acknowledged, while delivering his judgment.”He said, “Invidious unobtrusive acts of intolerance by majority Muslims who follow the Sunni school of thought against the minority Muslims who follow the Shiah school of thought is an important factor escalating the current crisis.

“This is leading to the continued detention of the IMN leader and the continued incessant persecution of its members.” Describing El-Zakzaky as a prisoner of faith, Musa stressed that he was being prosecuted for his religious inclinations, adding that officials of the Buhari government should be held accountable for crimes and for extra-judicial killings. He noted that persecution of IMN members was no longer a secret to the international community and that it has become a subject of preliminary investigation in the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague.

“If anyone deserves to be tried for crimes, it should be officials of the Buhari government who killed over 1,000 unarmed citizens extra-judicially and buried them in mass graves and have used all federal might to hide the truth and obstruct the course of justice. “Many local and international human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Islamic Human Rights Commission have investigated and documented the atrocities meted to IMN members and its leadership based on their religious beliefs,” he said.


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