Photo: A battered Sheikh al-Zakzaky
An interviewed Ibrahim Musa, spokesman of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), to discuss Nigeria’s brutal crackdown against Shia Muslims and the fate of the country’s cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky
The following is a rough transcription of the interview by PressTV:
Q: Mr. Musa welcome to the program. First of all, bring us up to speed on the latest from the number of casualties to those who have been arrested and, most importantly, the whereabouts and condition of Sheikh al-Zakzaky.
Musa: On the casualty number, we cannot still exactly say the figures because the authorities have denied [that they] have access to the corpses in their hands. But a source in the mortuary of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital has established that there are over 800 dead bodies in the mortuary, among them, unfortunately, about 87 women and apart from that there some corpses with them in the army barracks.
And about the whereabouts of our leader Sheikh Ibrahim Yaqhub al-Zakzaky, for now the authorities claim he is with them, but our sources have established that he is severely wounded. So we can only believe that he is safe until they allow us to talk to him, to see him or at least they should allow his first family members to visit him and see him. And what we demand is that they should hand him over to us and give him the proper medical attention he deserves. We do not trust them because they have been telling lies all along …right from Saturday.
Q: One of the questions regarding the attacks that took place in Zaria with the motives and the reasons why the Nigerian army carried out these attacks first they stated that members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria had attempted to assassinate the Nigerian army chief. It has been reported that story has changed over time. What can you tell us in that regard?
Musa: Yes, the story that they try to dish out to the public is a black and lie. We have never stopped anybody from passing along the Hussainiyyah road. This month we have been hoisting the flag of the Hussainiyyah so there is no point for them to say that we attempted to assassinate the chief. What we believe is that this is an orchestrated plan by the authorities of the government of [President] Muhammadu Buhari to attack the Shia community, to exterminate it.
Possibly, they are fearing the growing numbers and acceptance of the Shia community among other Muslim society. They are not in a position to say the reason why they did that. But if it is just because a road block has been staged, why should innocent people be killed? This is very unfortunate. But they are in a difficult position to answer this question because this cannot be accepted by any peace-loving citizens of Nigeria.
Q: Mr. Musa, what has been confirmed of the state of Sheikh Zakzaky and his family right now? Are you surprised that there has been no international condemnation or widespread coverage of what took place in Zaria over the past two days?
Musa: We cannot say there has been no condemnation. At least, there has been condemnation from the Islamic Republic of Iran and there has been condemnation from Association of Foreign Embassies here in Nigeria.
But about the coverage, we can also say the coverage is a bit not bad or is fair what to see because we have received coverage from …foreign media outlets like the BBC, Geo, Deutsche Welle and the rest of them.
But from the exact situation or the condition of Sheikh Ibrahim Yaqhub al-Zakzaky, we cannot definitely say about his condition now because I said earlier that we have not been given access to him. What we demand is that they let him be given access to us so that at least we can see his condition and access it.
Today, the Muslim brothers in Kaduna, Gambia, Bauchi, and Kanu staged peaceful protests. It ended peacefully in Kanu, Gambia and Bauchi, but in Kaduna the police also came and attacked the Muslim brothers. They have shot a lot of people there. Right now, we are collecting people and we will tell the public how many they have killed or wounded.
Q: We know that this is not the first time that the Nigerian army has targeted the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. If I recall was last year when another attack took place and a number of unarmed followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria were killed by the army there. This has led to many believing that the attacks this time were pre-planned with the intention of targeting the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and dealing it a severe blow.
Musa: Yes, this is exactly what we believe also that they have already planned and are looking for an alibi so that they hide the truth to possibly do what the last government could not possibly do. Even the [Goodluck] Jonathan government did attempt to exterminate the Shia community, that is why they even attacked that particular procession, but they could not achieve that.
So possibly, this government has decided it will finish what Jonathan had started. We believe it is a conspiracy between the Wahhabi, the Israelis and their American surrogates.