Press TV has interviewed Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire from Detroit, about the fate of Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Yaqoub Zakzaky in Nigerian government custody.
Q: Why has the Nigerian government in your opinion never issued a comprehensive account as the allegations of the massacre that took place in Zaria last year of Sheikh Zaki’s followers and even today of the sheikh’s and his wife’s fate?
Azikiwe: I believe that the position of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in this matter is indefensible. This whole conflict that occurred in December of last year was unnecessary, could have been avoided because they claim the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in a procession with blocking the pathway of a general. Well, there are other ways of dealing with such allegations through the citations through negotiations and so forth.
But the situation has worsened over the last several months. There’s been demonstrations over the last few weeks in various parts of the country even among students. They are demanding that medical attention be given to the sheikh who according to reports has been blinded in one eye. Another eye has been severely damaged, he was wounded and and his wife has also been held in custody.
And (they are demanding) also some investigation as to what happened on December 12 to 14 with three of the sheikh’s sons who were killed as well as it is estimated over 300 others were massacred. And they’re also claiming that some 50 young women were taken into custody by the Nigerian army and they have not been accounted for.
Q: There are many who can’t understand when the country has the threat of Boko Haram and its atrocities plaguing the nation, why the Nigerian government would go after a peaceful group like the Islamic Movement of Nigeria with some saying that perhaps is foreign influence that led to the decision.
Azikiwi: Well, it could be. We have to look at the influence of Saudi Arabia and other [Persian] Gulf states on African governments. We’ve seen this in recent month vis-à-vis Sudan as well as other states.
So, it could very well be outside influence. Also the whole process of destabilizing Nigeria – they have problems in the northeast, they have problems in the south. And of course, they do not need this additional problem in Kaduna state over something that should have been avoided in the first place.