The Nigerian authorities’ refusal to release top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky is “a travesty of justice”, says a political analyst, adding that there is absolutely no justification for his continued detention.
“Mr. Zakzaky is a prisoner of conscience. He is in jail because of his ideas, because of his principles and he is known to be a law abiding citizen … So to have him behind bars is just a travesty of justice … Now why is the court refusing to release him is unknown but I believe it must be under the pressure from the petrodollar people because there is absolutely no justification or explanation why Sheikh Zakzaky should have been attacked in the way that had happened … This is barbaric, pure barbarism,” Saeed Shehabi told Press TV in an interview on Friday.
“Now why he is still behind bars, it is only for political reasons, for financial reasons, for bribery by those people who own large amounts of money in Saudi Arabia and probably in the Emirates. These are the people who are influencing the military of Nigeria and keeping Sheikh Zakzaky behind bars. He should not be there, he should have been freed much earlier but to keep him there is only compounding the criminality of this military rule,” he added.
Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, has been held in detention since December 2015 and was charged just in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty.
In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered his unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.
The top cleric, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a raid which was carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria in December 2015.
During the raid, Zakzaky’s wife sustained serious wounds too and more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed. Zakzaky, his wife, and a large number of the cleric’s followers have since been in custody.