Shi’ite Leader To Face Felony Charges In Police Custody

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THE leader of the Shi’ite Islamic group, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, is being kept at a police detention facility in Kaduna State, it was learnt on Tuesday.

It was gathered that El-Zakzaky was handed over to the police for investigation in the aftermath of the bloody clash between his followers and soldiers in December, 2015.

It was gathered that the Shi’ite leader might face felony charges upon the conclusion of investigation by the police into his activities which were said to have grave security implications.

A source said, “El-Zakzaky is being kept at a detention facility in Kaduna; he cannot be released for now because he is being investigated by the police.

“In fact, a probe of El-Zakzaky’s activities is ongoing and the investigating team is headed by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, so he is not likely to be released anytime soon. Those calling for his release don’t know the gravity of the security breaches he had committed.”

Some members of the Shi’ite Islamic group were earlier arraigned at the Chief Magistrate Court 1,Zaria Road, Kaduna and charged with criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.

It could not be confirmed if the plea of the accused were taken or if they had legal representation, but it was learnt that they had been remanded in prison custody.

The Shi’ite followers had had a clash with soldiers in December 2015 during which about 20 persons were killed.

Their leader, El-Zakzaky, was subsequently taken into custody by the Army before he was released to the police for investigation.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Olabisi Kolawole, declined to comment on El-Zakzaky’s case. She said she could not disclose where he was being kept for security reasons.

“All I can tell you is that El-Zakzaky is safe, secure and very fine; he is doing well, but I can’t tell you where he is being kept or whether he is with us (police) or not,” she stated on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a former Nigerian envoy, Suleiman Dahiru, has described as unacceptable, the way and manner El-Zakzaky had been conducting his religious worship in Zaria, Kaduna State before he was arrested.

Dahiru, who had served as Nigerian Head of Mission to Brazil, Sudan, Côte D’voire, Angola, the United States of America, Austria and Pakistan, advised the Federal Government to step up action to avoid a sectarian crisis between the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in the country.

The former envoy in a telephone interview on Tuesday, equally counselled the FG against severing diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran despite her interference in Nigeria’s internal affair.

He urged the government to do all it could to ensure that the violent clash between the Nigeria Army and the Shi’ite group did not degenerate into a sectarian crisis.

Dahiru said, “When you look at the whole thing, you begin to say we are reaching a stage where we will be having sectarian crisis between the Sunni Muslims and Shi’ite Muslims and to me, it should be avoided.

“I think more should be done by Iran than anybody else. My own opinion is that the Shi’ite in Nigeria have been behaving in a manner which is not acceptable, that is why they could afford to challenge the elected governor of a state and even the army from passing.

“In all honesty, they would have behaved in a more decent manner than they did.”

He admonished Iran for demanding El-Zakzaky’s release, saying the government needed to tell the Iranians that “Nigeria would not do things the way Iran does their own.”