Reports from the Maitama district of Abuja say there are many wounded.
Peaceful protests broke out yesterday in response to the revelation that Mallimah Zeenah had contracted COVID-19 whilst in police custody. They continued into today as the Kaduna State Court adjourned the trial of the couple until March.
The pair are charged in relation to the killing of a security official in the massacre by the country’s armed forces of over 1000 of the Islamic Movement’s supporters in Zaria in 2015 in what is widely regarded as a witch-hunt against the movement’s leaders.
Despite the fact that over 1000 innocent supporters of the Islamic Movement were butchered in the Zaria attacks, not a single official has been charged or brought to trial over the killings. The massacre is currently the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.
In 2016 the federal high court, the highest court in the country, ruled that the pair’s detention was unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the Nigerian government to release them by January 16, 2017 and pay compensation. However, that ruling has never been enforced. Instead, perversely, state authorities in Kaduna decided to prosecute the pair in 2018.
Their continued detention with repeated court adjournments even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic ripping through the country’s prisons forms part of a process of ongoing maltreatment. It reinforces the view that Nigerian authorities are abusing the judicial system to keep the couple jailed in the hope that they will die quietly in custody.
The violence meted out against the supporters of the Islamic Movement now, as it was back in 2015, is part of the same process of trying to force the movement out of existence.
According to Masoud Shajareh, the chairman of the London -based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), “It is nothing short of scandalous that justice continues to be denied to both Mallimah and Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky even after six years in custody during which the authorities have failed to bring any conviction and in which scores have been murdered in cold blood for protesting the injstice. How long is the international community going to allow the Nigerian government to continue murdering its own citizens?”