TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A Ugandan analyst and journalist urged the Nigerian government to respect the rule of law and release Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, adding that when “the custodian of the law becomes the violator of the law, then that is self-defeating”.

– World news –

“The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the interests of 180 million Nigerians conflict with the interests of (Sheikh Ibrahim) Zakzaky and his followers, describing his detention as “protective custody”. The federal high court in Abuja clearly pronounced itself that there are no relevant provisions of the national security agencies act of the 1999 constitution (as amended), that justify the continued incarceration of Zakzaky, which by the way, has been the propellant of an avalanche of deadly protests by his followers, whose many lives have been lost. So if the custodian of the law becomes the violator of the law, then that is self-defeating in some way. Respect for the rule of law must be upheld at all times, and it should not be selective,” Hamza Kyeyune from Kampala, Uganda, told Press Shia. 

Following is the full text of the interview. 

Press Shia: In December 2015, the Nigerian army raided Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky’s residence and nearby buildings in the northern city of Zaria, Kaduna State. The top Muslim cleric and his wife were injured in the deadly raid. They have been in prison for four years despite a high court ruling granting them freedom. Why do you think the Nigerian government does not comply with the court order and set them free?

Kyeyune: The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, says the interests of 180 million Nigerians conflict with the interests of (Sheikh Ibrahim) Zakzaky and his followers, describing his detention as “protective custody”. The federal high court in Abuja clearly pronounced itself that there are no relevant provisions of the national security agencies act of the 1999 constitution (as amended), that justify the continued incarceration of Zakzaky, which by the way, has been the propellant of an avalanche of deadly protests by his followers, whose many lives have been lost.

So if the custodian of the law becomes the violator of the law, then that is self-defeating in some way. Respect for the rule of law must be upheld at all times, and it should not be selective.

Press Shia: According to Amnesty International’s research, more than 350 IMN (Islamic Movement of Nigeria) members were killed by security forces only between December 12 and 14, 2015 in Zaria. The number has been on the rise since then. Why do you think Abuja has targeted the religious movement?

Kyeyune: In order to rule effectively you need an enemy so that you can sell protection to your people and thus, somebody always gets targeted. One of the rules of this game is that the opponent has to be believably dangerous, truly scary. 

Press Shia: Do you believe that the international community and groups including those that introduce themselves as advocates of human rights have done enough to prevent such acts of violence by Nigerian authorities?

Kyeyune: You know, there is so much the International Community can do. Amnesty International documented the 3-day bloodbath at Zaria and pointed out that the mass slaughter of hundreds of Nigerian unarmed citizens by soldiers in Zaria and the attempted cover-up of this crime demonstrate utter contempt for human life and accountability. Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the brutal attack, United Nations Human Rights Council, discussed the massacre and continued detention of Zakzaky…but such cases tend to drag on for long!