Students took to the streets of Abuja on Tuesday to demand the release of Sheikh El-Zakzaky, who has been in military custody since December 2015. The Sheikh was arrested after a clash between members of his Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a Shi'ia group, and the military, which left at least 347 IMN members dead.
Read the protesters' statement on the matter, unedited, below:
OUR DEMAND IS SIMPLE: IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF OUR LEADER, SHAIKH ZAKZAKY, HIS WIFE AND OTHERS
We are all aware of the unfortunate event that occurred at Zaria between 12th and 14th December 2015. Proofs abound to establish that the operations by the Nigerian Army were well coordinated and preplanned. It was not as a result of provocations due to "clash". Independent investigations by renowned and reputable human rights organizations have affirmed gross violations of human rights, other abuses and extrajudicial killings of brothers and sisters of IMN by the Nigerian Army.
As a result of the attack, many tertiary institute students were brutally massacred and buried in mass graves while others are still under detention. 1000+ innocent citizens were brutally killed,887 families were affected ,not less than 472 widows,191 are still in prison custody-68 of those in prison are students, 2 died in prison due to lack of medical attention , 779 of the IMN members are still missing.
Furthermore, the residence of Shaikh Zakzaky was burnt down by the Nigerian Army and completely destroyed by the Kaduna state Government.
The Islamic Movement Centres were destroyed including the iconic Husainiyya Bakiyyatullah, largest in West Africa, symmetries were also destroyed. About 347 that included women and children were dumped in a single mass grave in Mando, outskirts of kaduna state, over 300 people were hospitalized with various degree of injuries and many were burnt to death.
Worse of it all, Sheikh Zakzaky who was shot several times with his wife by soldiers at his house, whose six children were murdered in cold blood by the Nigerian Army is still incarcerated and the legal proceedings to gain his freedom is being frustrated by the Nigerian Government. President Muhammdu Buhari went to London to treat his ear problem but Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were denied access to their medical experts despite the gravity of the injuries they sustained innocently, what a great amount of injustice.
We are deeply concerned and worried about the present health condition of Shaikh Zakzaky. Constitutionally, it is mandatory for the Governmen to release him urgently and unconditionally to enable him seek for proper medical care in any place of his choice. Since he has not committed any crime, he should be freed from this illegal detention, holding him hostage is unconstitutional, it is a clear violation of his basic right, and it is not acceptable. We are calling all Nigerians and the international community to join us and stand for the truth, justice and fairness.