Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and the persecution of his followers


The government of Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria is accused of violence, brutality and gross violation of Human Rights. Since he grabbed power in 1983 through a military coup, imprisonment, torture and kidnappings have become the tools to silence his critics. His main targets of political imprisonments have been students, journalists, human rights activists and clerics alike.

While he continues to commit heinous crimes, his capitalist western masters are either complicit in his crimes or turn a blind eye to his atrocities to protect their financial and political interests in Nigeria. Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his followers are the latest victims of Buhari’s atrocities.

Who is Zakzaky?

Born in 1953, Zakzaky is a Muslim cleric and the founder of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a humanitarian organization involved in education, charity and welfare activities. He has been vocal against the country’s brutal dictatorship and has championed the cause of the country’s poor, thus making him a threat to the ruling elite and their western capitalist masters. Inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, Zakzaky openly raised his voice against the corrupt and incompetent rulers in Nigeria and their cronies. He was a vocal critic of the western imperialist policies in Africa and their large scale theft of the African resources. Apart from championing for the social and political rights of Nigeria’s poor, he was also an advocate of the Shia school of thought in Nigeria which has majority Sunnis, thus bringing him in direct conflict with certain sections of Nigeria’s majority leadership. Some of Zakzaky’s followers have accused Saudi Arabia and Israel of funding and orchestrating the attack on Sheikh Zakzaky and his followers to undermine Iran’s growing ideological clout in the region.

The cleric has been in detention since December 2015, when his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by the Nigerian forces. The brutal crackdown on his residence left him with severe injuries and loss of vision in his left eye, even his wife sustained serious injuries and is still in detention. The Army killed 6 of his sons and more than 300 of his followers. Since then, he and his wife remain imprisoned under deplorable conditions. For the last five years they have been denied proper medical treatment despite their failing health conditions.

A delegation of doctors led by UK based Islamic Human Rights Commisssion (IHRC) diagnosed him with severe cadmium and lead poisoning, left ventricular hypertrophy, malignant hypertension, spondylitis, anophthalmia in one eye, open-angle glaucoma in the other, PTSD from protracted trauma, and other debilitating effects of the stroke he suffered in the beginning of 2019.

Zakzaky requires expert medical care and urgent hospitalization and his wife Zeenah suffers from severe osteoarthritis, hypertension, hyperthyroidism, gastrointestinal ailments, and other health issues. The cleric’s son said that “he was shocked by his father’s worsening medical condition after visiting him,” stressing that he needed to be immediately hospitalized as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.” He said the Nigerian authorities had not taken any action so far, and that they intend to murder his father.

In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered Zakzaky’s unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has refused to follow the courts order. The Nigerian government continues to imprison him and kill his followers who are peacefully protesting to demand his release.

Apart from the supporters of Sheikh Zakzaky, people all over the world have demanded his immediate release through petitions, protests and social media campaigns. Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan is the latest high profile religious leader who has demanded his release from the government of Nigeria.

Since five years Sheikh Zakzaky is languishing in prison and the world is either silent, or conveniently turning a blind eye to his plight. I wonder what his fault is; is it serving the poor, standing up against oppressors or being a Muslim.

Spread the Word!



Anthony Mathew Jacob is a former Content Developer with an India based TV Channel. He writes on the Middle East and the Indian Sub-Continent, his articles have been published in Governance Now, PressTv, Tehran Times and
he can be contacted on: [email protected]


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