Free Zakzaky international press conference

BEING TEXT OF PRESS CONFERENCE DELIVERED BY THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA TO MARK THE 500 DAYS SINCE GENOCIDE IN ZARIA AND THE ILLEGAL DETENTION OF SHEIKH IBRAHEEM ZAKZAKY ON 27THAPRIL, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,

Good afternoon.

Yesterday we marked the 500th day since the unwarranted detention of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, his wife, Zeenah, and hundreds of other members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in various detention centres. That was sequel to the brutal attack by the Federal government using its Military might in an attempt at exterminating the Movement, its leadership, membership and properties. As we are all aware, since that murderous weekend of December 12, 2015, we are still looking for justice on the matter.

What happened between December 12 and 14, 2015 and subsequently has largely been deliberately kept hidden by the perpetrators. Amnesty International (AI) in its report called it “’Unearthing the Truth’: Unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria.” The report, which was a product of extensive field investigation by independent investigators, has since been irritating the Nigerian government, who are hell-bent on covering what actually happened that cost the lives of over a thousand innocent citizens, using all instruments of state powers.

Going by the definition of genocide as violent crimes committed against groups with the intent to destroy the existence of the group, it will be safe to say that the Nigerian government under Muhammadu Buhari have committed genocide! Article six of the Rome Statute better captures that. It says that genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. If this definition says any of these will constitute genocide, we in Zaria faced all of these violent crimes by agents of this government.

Right from the outset, the intent was to destroy in whole the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). That was clearly demonstrated by the military personnel that repeatedly chanted “No more Shi’ah” and other anti-IMN slogans as they massacred women, children and all others in Zaria. That would explain why they destroyed all properties of IMN including schools and religious centres as well as desecrated grave yards where members of IMN were buried. They massively killed over a thousand members of the IMN, including those they had shot and injured but could not be taken to shelter. They burnt people alive as well as the corpses of those they had killed!

Who would quantify the serious bodily or mental harm the unprecedented Zaria massacre had caused to members of the Islamic Movement and their relations? Those who had escaped with their lives faced other shades of brutality. Hundreds were arbitrarily arrested and are detained, some being wrongly accused with framed up charges. Many are still being kept in secret confinement without charges or trials. Many were denied appropriate medical attention and died in custody. Pregnant women had premature deliveries while in custody and some others suffered miscarriages. The hallmark of the mental torture was the secret burial of those they killed in mass graves without letting their relations give them a befitting burial. In fact, their relatives have not been informed of the extrajudicial execution of their loved ones.

We also are witnesses to the infliction of conditions of life calculated to bring about our physical destruction. Shaikh Zakzaky’s health condition continues to deteriorate in detention, a condition calculated to bring about his physical destruction. We have been denied justice and fair hearing. Even as the courts had passed a judgement calling for the release of the Sheikh and compensation for illegal detention, the government is still holding him in contempt to that judgement five months after. The only and last time Sheikh Zakzaky was allowed access to lawyers was April 2016 (a year ago, after about five months incommunicado). We have been denied our rights to our faith (Kaduna and some few other states have said they have outlawed us). We have been denied the right to freely associate, assemble or peacefully protest. You all are witnesses to all these acts of intimidation. Even yesterday, we were subtly molested and harassed.

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, during the Zaria massacre, the assailants had taken measures to prevent births within our group should we survive their acts of aggression. They raped girls and women! They cut the breasts of some of their victims and mutilated their reproductive organs using snippets and their guns. The worst of it all was that they actually did that while verbally expressing the very reason why they were doing that – to stop them delivering of Shiites! We have seen children being separated from their parents and detained in prison.

There are survivors and witnesses who would readily give testimony to these crimes against humanity. Perhaps that is why they do not want us heard. That is the very reason for the massive campaign of blackmail against us. That is the very reason why they further kill us with such impunity.

As of today, the government of Buhari has not arrested a single person for these serious crimes. It has shown obvious unwillingness to appropriately prosecute the perpetrators of this genocide. It only seeks to further protect them and even further perpetrate more crimes. It is in the light of this we have instructed our lawyers to take the next steps to take all necessary legal ways to seek redress. This includes but not limited to opening a contempt of court proceedings. In the international scene, we shall proceed to urge the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague to indict President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Nasiru ElRufai, General Yusuf Buratai and all others who meticulously planned and executed the Zaria genocide. We will not relent in stepping up our peaceful campaigns for the release of our leader and all those being held.

SIGNED BY: SHEIKH ADAMU TSOHO AHMAD

ON BEHALF OF THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN NIERIA

27/APRIL/2017