Ten Months On: Police Detain Seriously Injured Free-Zakzaky Protesters, and Still Withhold Nine Corpses


The carefree attitude shown by the police with respect to their July-2019 brutality is inhuman and unprofessional. To recap on the incidents; on 22nd July of 2019, police operatives opened fire on Free-Zakzaky protesters at the Federal Secretariat and killed six persons right away, viz. Ja’afar Muhammad, Mahdi Musa, Askari Hassan, Bilyaminu Abubakar Faska, Muhammad Bakir Habibu and Suleiman Shehu. The police evacuated all the corpses and deposited them at the National Hospital. Some of the seriously injured protesters were however taken to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada by members of their immediate families. Unfortunately, a legion of armed-to-the-teeth policemen raided the hospital and whisked them off. Having arrested and taken those already admitted away from the hospital, despite their gory gunshot wounds, the police dumped them at the FCT-SARS without treatments, medical or surgical.

Under police custody, three persons died due to lack of medication coupled with traumas of the facility, and their corpses were deposited at the Asokoro District Hospital. Since then, all concerted efforts to have all the nine corpses released for befitting burial proved abortive. There has never been any positive response from neither the police nor the National Hospital nor the Asokoro District Hospital.

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The sudden and vicious attack on the teaching hospital in Gwagwalada along with the carting away of the admitted protesters, who had already begun to receive treatments, was as cruel and criminal as the first attack on them while protesting.

In November 2019, the protesters that survived five [5] months of humiliating torture and life-threatening detention, were arraigned by the police before Justice Sulaiman Bolaji Belgore of the FCT High Court.

After the arraignment, the Judge ordered that the accused persons be remanded at a Correctional Centre. Owing to gunshot wounds, orthopaedic ailments as well as several other deadly injuries sustained by the accused, the officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service [NCS] at Kuje refused to accept some of them.

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Thus, the refusal by the officials of the NCS to accept the injured protesters gave the police another loophole to continue with the brutal detention of Imran Ayuba, Muhammad Khamisu and Muhammad Muhammad in an undisclosed police detention facility. Throughout these ten months, the police have denied, and still deny, the relatives of the accused sort of access to them, nor do they give them the medical attention much required by their conditions.

Under such seriously damaged health conditions, the trial of the protesters continued and the Judge along with the prosecuting counsel, DSP Simon Lough, have been playing hide-and-seek and yet manoeuvred to needlessly refuse the accused persons bail. Over seven sittings, the court continued the trial and refused to look into the bail application filed by the accused through their counsel.

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The Judge and the prosecutor were well aware that only hale and hearty people could be tried, yet the trial was continued without a regard to the accused medical challenge. Isn’t the court’s refusal to hear the bail application an obvious denial of their fundamental rights?

Protest is not a crime, nor is protesting; it is as enshrined in the constitution as the right to life. Thus, we are demanding for the release of all Free-Zakzaky protesters amidst the COVID-19 emergency, which necessitates prison de-congestion across the country.

We also demand for the immediate and unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenah Ibraheem.

Abdullahi Muhammad Musa
For the Academic Forum of the Islamic movement in Nigeria

26 April, 2020

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