A pro-democracy group, Concerned Nigerians, has made a fresh demand for the release of Sheik Ibraheem El-ZakZaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and his wife, Ibraheema. Concerned Nigerians also expressed readiness to house them upon release.
The group made its position known in a statement issued on Sunday. Signed by Messrs. Deji Adeyanju and John Danfulani, Convener and Secretary respectively, the statement criticized the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, for justifying the continuous and detention of Sheikh El-ZakZaky and his wife despite a court order directing they should be freed.
"Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Sheikh El-ZakZaky and his wife are not being detained or in custody of the Police or Department of State Service (DSS), but in a home built by this government. This assertion by Minister of Information is not only false, but unacceptable to all well meaning Nigerians and an insult to our collective sensibility," said Concerned Nigerians.
The group noted that over 1000 IMN members were killed by government forces in Zaria in 2015, a crime for which none of the perpetrators has been put on trial. It equally noted that Sheikh El-ZakZaky and his wife have been denied access to their immediate and extended family, their lawyers and IMN members.
It wondered how the Information Minister could push the view that the IMN leader and his wife are living in a house built by the Federal Government when they have not been allowed visits by their immediate family, lawyers or IMN members.
Concerned Nigerians said it is possession of information suggesting that Sheik Zakzaky and his wife are still in DSS custody and have remained there since their arrest in December 2015. It described, as a lie, the Federal Government's claim that no Nigerian is willing to be a neighbor to Sheikh El- ZakZaky or accept him. The group said it is ready to accept and be neighbors to the IMN leader.
"We are willing and ready to accept ZakZaky as a neighbor. In fact, our Kaduna State Coordinator and members, both in Kaduna City and Zaria, are ready to house ZakZaky and his wife and support their reintegration into the society. We are also willing and ready to provide accommodation for ZakZaky and his wife pending his permanent reintegration," stated Concerned Nigerians.
The pro-democracy appealed to the Federal government to release Sheikh El-ZakZaky and his wife to it and put an end to their prolonged detention in disobedience of a valid court order.
It called on the Federal Government to realize that the world is paying attention to its human rights record, which it described as the worst ever in the country's history.