Members of the Shia sect under the banner of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), on Wednesday, stormed the National Assembly in a protest to demand the release of their leader, Mr. Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Wielding various placards, the protesters marched through the Federal Secretariat Complex, chanting: "Free Zakzaky, obey court order." A former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youth leader, Mr. Deji Adeyanju, joined the protest.
Some of the placards they carried bore messages such as “Obey Court Order, Free Zakzaky” and “500 Days in Illegal Detention, We Stand for Justice.”
A detachment of armed policemen, however, prevented the protesters from gaining entrance into the complex. Chairman of the Free Zakzaky campaign, Mr. Abdulrahman Yola, said the protest rally was held to remind the Federal Government that the IMN leader has been illegally detained for 500 days. Mr. Yola said the Nigeria Army, which killed over 1,000 IMN members in Zaria, has not been sanctioned for the murderous violence.
He added that Mr. El-Zakzaky has been denied access to medical care of his choice and members of his family.
The Islamic group noted that a competent court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole has ordered Mr. El-Zakzaky’s immediate and unconditional release, but the Federal Government has continued to disobey the order. Mr. Yola called on Nigerians to prevail on President Muhammadu to urgently release the IMN leader.
The IMN leader has been in since December 2015, following a bloody clash between members of the group and the convoy of the Chief Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. The Chief of Army Staff had claimed that members of the sect made an attempt on his life, while on their way to Kaduna for the annual Ashura day.