The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has described its leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, as ‘a prisoner of faith’.
The movement was reacting to claims by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who on Sunday claimed that Shia leader was been held in prison on criminal charges.
Mohammed’s reaction was triggered by a report by the United States Commission on Inter-Religious Freedom, which designated Nigeria as one of the countries to be placed on a special watchlist for severe forms of religious violation.
In a statement on Monday, spokesperson for IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said, “We, the members of the Islamic Movement and our leader, Sheikh El-Zakzaky, are entitled to freedom of religion, association and expression like every Nigerian citizen, all of which the Buhari regime is denying us and perpetually persecuting us because of our faith and beliefs.
“Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky is undoubtedly a prisoner of faith.”
Musa said if anyone should be tried for crimes against humanity, it should be officials of the Buhari administration involved in the 2015 massacre of the IMN sect in Kaduna.
He said, “If anyone deserves to be held and tried for crimes, it would be top officials of Buhari’s government who killed over 1000 unarmed citizens extra-judicially and buried them in mass graves, and have used all the might of governance to hide the truth and obstruct the course of justice.
“Furthermore, many local and international human rights organisations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Islamic Human Rights Commission have all investigated and documented the atrocities meted on members of the Islamic Movement and its leadership purely based on their religious beliefs.”