Home Post Archive THE FOOTSTEPS OF EL ZAKZAKY

THE FOOTSTEPS OF EL ZAKZAKY

"I am the Zakzaky you see now, a human being [and] an ordinary citizen living in the city. Full stop" he told reporters in 1999. Sheikh El Zakzaky has been detained by the federal government of Nigeria under the elected government of Muhammadu Buhari. A federal high court ruling had mandated that he be released from custody. The court also ruled that Zakzaky and his wife were to be paid the sum of 50 million Naira ($164,052) in compensation. Both rulings have been ignored by federal government which has displayed a penchant for disobeying court rulings. In response to the continuous detention of the cleric, his supporters have taken to the streets of Abuja and Lagos.

But why has El Zakzaky become an enigma, a trouble maker and an embattled political activist whose name reminds us of different things?

He was born in Zaria in Nigeria where he - in the 1970s - attended the Ahmadu Bello University and earned a first degree in Economics. His academic excellence had little impact on his religious beliefs. He was an active player in Islamic students unionism on his campus. His activities led the Administration of the University to deny him his certificate.

Like many revolutions including the Arab Spring inspire radicals around the world, the successful Islamic revolution in Iran led by Ayatollah Khomeini had much influence on him. He wanted it to happen in Nigeria too. He formed the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and proceeded to pursue his dream. He has so far become very popular.

His Islamic Movement of Nigeria was formed at a time when the Islamic revivalist movements began popping up in the country in the 1970s. Hitherto, the two most prominent groups of Muslims living in Nigeria were the Quadriyya led by the Sultan of Sokoto and the Tijjaniyya led by the Emir of Kano. Both clashed but their bickerings were more political can spiritual. A few practitioners disagreed with these two most dominant sects and began to proselytize their opinions. There came the Jama'at Izalatil Bidia wa Iqamatus Sunnah (Movement Against Negative Innovation and for Orthodoxy) - the Izala group - which is aligned with the global Sunni brand of Islam. And along came the Shia movement which is forged by the imamate doctrine. It rejects the secular government. El Zakzaky is Shia. He now has millions of followers in a country where before his emergence, there was no notable Shia population.

"If the Nigerian constitution accepts secular[ism] or multi-religious[ity], ...people can also come and say it is now Islamic" El Zakzaky said. "A nation must be under the leadership of a learned man, somebody knowledgeable in Islamic law." He, however, denied being nihilist. But he has publicly stated that the State of Israel will cease to exist in the future not withstanding the support from strong countries. He has also, for decades, demonstrated his support for Palestinian cause.

His movement has been accused by the government, his critics and ordinary people to be violent and murderous. Local populations have once rejected him and accused him of fomenting trouble in their local community such as Samaru village in January 1999. These charges have not been proven against him in the law courts -yet. Almajiri pupils have often formed the street army that defended the movements since they had usually turned to the members of these movements for food, livelihood and the assurance of a better future. Many arrested pupils were charged before a magistrate court in July, 2019. He has lost six out of his nine children in military crackdown since 2014. He has also been held by the Federal Government of Nigeria since 2015.

On his political agenda, he was impenitent to declare;

"if you study us very well, and you hear our programmes, we are already a political movement. To be sincere to the world, we are the only viable political party in this country. When you see people at political rallies, you will see that they are there either because they were paid or they expect to gain certain things. And political office holders seekers want to represent their interests and not the interests of the people. But here, you have a movement purely based on an idea. ...The target of every member of the Islamic Movement is to see that the ideology succeeds and not the self. That is why some are killed in the course this struggle. For someone to think that I am doing these things for myself would mean that I am sure that I will survive it. I am not sure [if] I will survive it but what I am sure [of] is that in the end, the Movement will succeed with or without me. And I do not care if I perish in the course of the struggle."

Since his arrival in public life as a cleric, he has set his growing followers on the path of intransigence and defiance which has continued despite the deaths of hundreds. There are speculations that he is being supported by Iran. He has denied that. In February, 2013, Iran was accused of sponsoring terrorists attempts at killing Israeli and Americans in Nigeria's Lagos. It was accompanied by confessions from the Nigerian accomplices in the plot. The convicted former Israeli minister Gonen Segev had been in Nigeria and in contact with the Iranian embassy in Abuja for years.

Perhaps there is more to the news than we have been informed. Emotions are still high and many Nigerians are peering around for clues.

End notes 

1) Parenthesises are the author's.
2) Samaru incidences was reported in Equal Justice; Vol. 2, No. 5. March-May, 1999. 
3) Statements obtained from an interview with Equal Justice; Vol. 2, No. 5. March-May, 1999.
4) Some information were sourced from wikipedia.org
5) israelnationalnews.com. June 2018.
6) This Morning (on TVC) with Yori Folarin; YouTube. July 2019.
7) Newsmakers (on TRT World) with Imran Garda; YouTube. July 2019.
8) Aljazeera: 9 January, 2019
9) parstoday.com (photo source)


Ojo Aderemi, President of the University of Ibadan Students Union (2016/17 session) can be reached via email ojderemi@gmail.com and his articles appear on his website platinumderemi.com
Follow him on twitter @oj_deremi


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7 COMMENTS

Papa
Papa Wed August 28, 2019 at 1:28pm

Thanks for the expose. You surely have a broad mind by delving into the Islamic world; perhaps that is what historical background does to you. A pity our government turned deaf towards the plight of El Zakzaky`s faithfuls.

Dauda Ridwan O.
Dauda Ridwan O. Thu August 29, 2019 at 8:34pm

We hear only what they want us to, we listen to what suits them, that's their doing, giving us few words to cajole us. There is no court that adjudicated that El-Zakyzaky should be released be it in Nigeria or anywhere in the world. More so,the case wasn't against the Federal Government rather Kaduna state Govt headed by Kaduna Legal Council. Mallam El-Zakyzaky was expelled from ABU then when he happened to be misleading people with his IMN movement which contradicts law of the land. Incumbent Kaduna Governor was his mate and they were both an executive in MSSN in those years. His action follows Iranian revolution and Launching of Islamic state,he think this is achievable here in Nigeria. His offences are enormous like organizing a parallel government within a sovereign state. Pledging of allegiance to El-Zakzaky by his followers instead of being accountable to Nigeria constitution. Training of military who owe allegiance to him only. His relationship with warring countries who have been known in the world for their bellicose act is enough to ignited an uproar. Intelligence report on initiation of Boko Haram requires for preventive measure to control this terrorist act before it outgrown. Many atrocities were committed by this group of IMN, a day has been assigned to before self brutality in remembrance of their Acclaimed Prophet "Ali" which isn't only barbaric but unpalatable. This Shiites group pose a great threat to those who antagonise their belief, in those community they occupied mostly in Zaria. They launched an attack against General Tukur Buratai over argument on blockage of highway on performing their Shiites activities. El-Zakyzaky was being kept if Federal Government custody to ensure maximum security for him and his wife in order not to let them escape. So, any claim being launched against Federal Government on this issue shows that the launcher is an accomplice or has ulterior motive. We can blame Government for inefficiency but not fomenting trouble. DRO

Azeez
Azeez Thu August 29, 2019 at 8:47pm

This clarifies the major point of his issue. But, as you said, they're may be more than what we are informed. The ruling class will not let any out untouched is it pose a threat to their reign. The public should request for an open investigation of the man allegations. To ri wipe Orun nyaa boo, kii soro enikan.

Azeez
Azeez Thu August 29, 2019 at 8:47pm

This clarifies the major point of his issue. But, as you said, they're may be more than what we are informed. The ruling class will not let any out untouched is it pose a threat to their reign. The public should request for an open investigation of the man allegations. To ri wipe Orun nyaa boo, kii soro enikan.

Azeez
Azeez Thu August 29, 2019 at 8:47pm

This clarifies the major point of his issue. But, as you said, they're may be more than what we are informed. The ruling class will not let any out untouched is it pose a threat to their reign. The public should request for an open investigation of the man allegations. To ri wipe Orun nyaa boo, kii soro enikan.

Azeez
Azeez Thu August 29, 2019 at 8:47pm

This clarifies the major point of his issue. But, as you said, they're may be more than what we are informed. The ruling class will not let any out untouched is it pose a threat to their reign. The public should request for an open investigation of the man allegations. To ri wipe Orun nyaa boo, kii soro enikan.

Azeez
Azeez Thu August 29, 2019 at 8:47pm

This clarifies the major point of his issue. But, as you said, they're may be more than what we are informed. The ruling class will not let any out untouched is it pose a threat to their reign. The public should request for an open investigation of the man allegations. To ri wipe Orun nyaa boo, kii soro enikan.

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