Protesting Shi’ites in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have taken to the streets to demand that President Muhammadu Buhari lifts the travel ban on Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The group also called for the release of El-Zakzaky’s and his wife, Malama Zeenah’s, international passports for a medical trip.
Starting their protest from the Federal High Court and moving towards Louis Edet House, the group demanded the passports’ release for the Sheikh and his wife to travel abroad for medical treatment. The Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier rejected El-Zakzaky’s application asking the Department of State Services (DSS) to release his passport and that of his wife.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Obiora Egwuatu stated that the cleric had failed to provide evidence that his passport was missing, despite his lawyers’ ten exhibits showing that the DSS had taken the passports after his return from India in 2018.
The protesters were seen carrying placards with inscriptions that read: “Buhari must remove the travel ban on Sheikh El-Zakzaky.” However, there were reports of unconfirmed shootings at the protest.
The Nigerian government has imposed restrictions on El-Zakzaky, who has been in custody since 2015, following a clash between his followers and the Nigerian Army. His detention has sparked outrage from human rights groups who have called for his immediate release.
The Shi’ites, a minority Islamic sect in Nigeria, have been protesting for several years, calling for the release of their leader and condemning what they describe as the Nigerian government’s oppression and persecution of their group.
In conclusion, the Shi’ites’ protest in Abuja demanding the lifting of the travel ban on El-Zakzaky has once again highlighted the need for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing dispute between the Nigerian government and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The Nigerian government must listen to the protesters’ demands and take steps towards resolving the conflict in a peaceful and just manner.