A formation of Muslim students in Nigeria In the 1970s protests around Nigerian universities, vandalizing bars, and aimed for the implementation of Islamic law. Among the young cadres was a man named Ibrahim El Zakzaky.
Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky was born May 5, 1953. He grew to become an outspoken and prominent Shi’a Muslim leader in Nigeria. A movement that he founded in the late 1970s when he was a student at Ahmadu Bello University and began propagating Shi’ism around 1979, at the time of the Iranian revolution—which saw Iran’s monarchy overthrown and replaced with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini. Zakzaky believed that the establishment of a republic along similar religious lines in Nigeria would be feasible.
In return, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) became one of the strongest Islamists movements in northern Nigeria that receive support and financial aid from outside. However, it is reported that this financial aid had served as ar means to recruit people to their cause and undermine the authority of the government by highlighting the government’s failure to maintain public social services.
The Religious belief of El Zakzaky
El Zakzaky’s movement appears to have been committed to the doctrines of Shi’ism – believe that the leadership of the Islamic community after Muhammad belongs to Ali – the cousin of Muhammad, and his successors. Shia Muslims believe that just as a prophet is appointed by God alone, only God has the prerogative to appoint the successor to his prophet. They believe God chose Ali to be Muhammad’s successor.
The Shiite label is referred to in Nigeria as much to a radical political attitude as against the doctrinal differences because they majorly believe and proclaim that “there is no government except that of Islam”. Its founder and leader are Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who, since its early years called for an Islamic revolution to create an Islamic state in Nigeria and the stringent adoption of Islamic legal principles and systems, which it consequences will bring an end to western influence in the country. To strengthen the awareness of their existence, the movement has organized pro-Palestinian demonstrations on an annual basis across Nigeria for over 33 years, primarily in the state of Kaduna.
The 2015 violent event
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) emerged in the early 1980s as the first Shi’a Islamist organization in Nigeria. However, since the early-2000s, this organization has become increasingly confrontational and at times violent towards the Nigerian state. Research revealed that contextual, ideological, local, and global factors generated radicalized the IMN. These include historical factors, the collapse of the First Republic (1960-1966), military rule, Sunni-Shi’a tensions, the spread and intensification of radical and extremist Islamist ideologies and actors in post-independence Nigeria. Instances of this were the outbreak of violent clashes between Sunni and Shi’a as far back as March 11, 2005, because of a protest by Shi’a and again in February and May 2006 in the revered seat of the caliphate, Sokoto. Not until August 2007, that security forces had to demolish the Sokoto headquarters of the Shia sect, when members were accused of killing a rival Muslim cleric.
Remarkably, the security reports had concluded with investigations that IMN is likely to undergo a future, more violent phase of radicalization that may trigger a full-blown Shi’a insurgency with potential backing from the Iranian regime.
Moreover, On 12 December 2015, the Nigerian army in Zaria Kaduna state had a clash with the Islamic movement, leading to the death of at least 348 civilians and some others injured. Amnesty International reported then that Some of the injured bodies were burned alive, and corpses were buried in mass. Ibrahim Zakzaky was captured and detained along with his wife and hundreds of other members.
The army, meanwhile, revealed that they’d responded to an attempt to assassinate Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai by the Islamic movement. With this claim strongly rejected by the Movement and human rights organizations in Nigeria, who argue that the massacre occurred without any provocation and that all the protestors were seen unarmed.
Following these rejections, the Kaduna state government formed a commission in January 2016 tasked with making judicial Inquiry into the root causes of the clash between the Islamic Movement and the Nigerian Army in December 2015, under the chairmanship of Justice Mohammed Garba. They had in return submitted their report in august 2016 and urged the government to prosecute all those who are involved in the killing.
El Zakzaky’s bail, tour, and return from India
The recent series of protests by members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, which resulted in the death of innocent souls- three of their members, a journalist, and the bodily injury of fifteen others. A fresh application was filled by El Zakzaky leading counsel Femi Falana (SAN) requesting that he should be allowed to travel to India for medical attention due to their failing health conditions.
The bail was however granted on the 5th of August by the Kaduna court which saw both accused travel down to Mendatta hospital in New Delhi, India
As expected, their journey to India was well accompanied with hopes and great expectations, but following the accusations of misbehavior, El Zakzaky was brought back to Nigeria amid tight securities by the Nigerian government a few days after he traveled.
In a statement released by the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, in Abuja, the government said that the religious leader planned to seek asylum in India rather than undergo medical treatment and return to Nigeria to face his ongoing trial.