In an interview with Deutsch Welle Hausa radio programme on April 29, the chairman Kaduna faction of Jama’atu Izalatul Bid’a wa Iqamatus Sunnah (JIBWIS), Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, urged the federal government to ensure that justice be immediately served to the illegally detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
The call came at a time when the Sheikh clocked 68 on April 20 with three of his previous birthday in illegal detention. The birthday was celebrated amidst tears and colourful but peaceful protest by his followers in Abuja.
At the weekend, while addressing a press conference to kick-off the national convention of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), the president, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev’d Samson Ayokunle told the federal government that it is time to release the Sheikh and former NSA Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd). This is not the first time CAN has made this call. Its leadership has severally urged the president, in most of their meetings at the Presidential Villa, to do the needful and respect court order to release the Sheikh. Various religious and non-governmental human right organisations, within and outside the country, have since followed suit in calling for the release of the Sheikh.
These calls and various others clearly show that no one- no individual with the shred of humanity- is supporting the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife amidst the fear of their deteriorating health condition. Again, last week, the foreign medical experts who were allowed to visit the Sheikh, for the first time in four years, made public the findings of their preliminary assessment. According to the assessment, the Sheikh is having multiple health complications, which could only be treated in a well-equipped facility. They cited the need for the Sheikh to be flown abroad for immediate medical attention.
The story is no different for his wife, Zeenat Ibraheem, a grieving mother of nine, out of which six were killed in less than two years. She has reportedly been battling chronic osteoarthritis owing to her aging body.
If not for anything but for the deteriorating health condition of the Sheikh and his wife, the duo should be released to, at least, attend to their health. So many a great number of diseases occur concomitantly with aging every one of which is difficult to treat even with proper medical attention. The immune system of the body is already weakened (with aging); further weakening it by depriving this couple the freedom to be properly cared for, by their loved ones, is not right.
Allowing foreign medical experts to attend to them isn’t just enough, a very good gesture though. Absolute freedom is what they deserve!
The government should understand that the life of Sheikh Zakzaky is as crucial as ever to the peace of the nation. Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers should not be pushed to the wall as the famous African-American Marxist writer George L Jackson said: “Patience has its limit, take it too far, and it is cowardice”. Their patience, like all other patience, has a limit and shouldn’t be crossed.
There is no better time- at the wake of the government’s failure to do the needful a long time ago- to release Sheikh Zakzaky, his wife Zeenah Ibraheem and other hundreds of his followers languishing in various detention facilities than now. Not today, not tomorrow and not the day after that, but NOW!