Why Islamic Movement Will Not Appear Before Commission Of Inquiry

By Stephen Lawan

Malam Ibrahim Musa has been the Editor of Almizan newspaper, a Kaduna-based Islamic publication, for close to 20 years before becoming the spokesman of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, after the clash between soldiers and Shiites last December which led to loss of lives.

In this interview with IBRAHEEM MUSA, he articulates why

Shiites will not appear before the Commission of Inquiry which was set

up by Kaduna State Government to find out the remote and immediate

causes of the clash which occurred in Zaria
The commission of inquiry which Kaduna State government set up to

probe the clash between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and

soldiers, which led to loss of lives in December, has commenced

sitting last Monday. Why did your group boycott the sitting and by so

doing lose the opportunity to tell the world your own side of the

The Islamic movement believes the commission looks more like an

“Indictment Commission” rather than an “Inquiry Commission,” because

of the following indisputable facts: First and foremost, some members

of the commission have vested interests against the Movement in

particular and the Shi’a in general.
Thus, by law, they should be automatically disqualified from

participating or serving in the commission. Secondly, Kaduna State

Government has demonstrated bias and made pre-mediated conclusions

against the Movement.
Thirdly, the Nigerian Army, which is ably represented in the

commission too, has vested interests in seeing that the truth of what

they did doesn’t come out, given the grievous allegations of massacre,

illegal detention, rape, arson and wilful destruction of properties

being levelled against it.
Above all, the Movement is not represen ted in the membership of the

commission. The composition of the commission has no local or

international human and humanitarian rights groups.

But Dr Jibrin Ibrahim, an activist of international repute is on the

commission, so is Mrs Khadijah Gambo, a gender activist. In addition,

Professor Ibrahim Gambari, an Under Secretary of the United Nations is

also a member of the commission. Don’t these personalities represent

the ‘’local and international human and humanitarian groups’’ that you

refer to?
No, they don’t because we expect the presence of prominent local and

international human right bodies like Amnesty International and Human

Rights Watch on the commission.
We would also like to see the presence of Nigerian human rights

organisations like Access to Justice and MURIC. These are bodies that

are known to have fought various governments on human rights

violations. They are more credible because of their antecedents.

Whatever your grouse with the commission, don’t you think that it

should have been proper to appear before it and table them? Or better

still, why don’t you go to court to challenge the composition of the

commission instead of boycotting it?
The issue at stake is that the fairness, independence and impartiality

of the commission as required by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution

of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the provisions of the African

Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of

Nigeria, 2004 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are in

The rule of natural justice require, inter alia, that where likelihood

of bias can reasonably be inferred or discovered, whether directly or

indirectly, from the surrounding circumstances, then fair hearing is

not observed.
This is because justice should not only be done but must be manifestly

and undoubtedly be seen to have been done.
As for going to court, we are still consulting with our solicitors on

the matter, especially regarding who we are going to drag before the

courts, and also which court we will be taking them to. We are even

contemplating going to the International Court of Justice in Hague.

Did the Islamic Movement of Nigeria send any memorandum to the

commission, even though you have decided not to appear before it?

We haven’t sent any memorandum, because we have been denied even

access to our leader, Sheikh Zakzaky.
The commission sent a letter to us on February 2, 2016 urging us to

submit memorandum to it. Our solicitors, comprising the learned Femi

Falana (SAN) and Barrister Festus Okoye, wrote to the Inspector

General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, requesting to meet Sheikh

Zakzaky. He, however, directed them to the headquarters of DSS.

They went there and after all formalities, they were turned back. We

are of the firm view that our team of lawyers must see the Sheikh and

get instructions and proper briefings from him before the period for

the submission of memorandum elapses.
This is in view of the fact that Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is the leader

of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. He is also the spokesperson of the

Movement as well as the custodian of its properties and documents.

It’s curious that your legal counsels are both Christians. Do you

think they will understand the nuances of the case, seeing that they

are not Muslims?
The two legal luminaries I mentioned are not the only lawyers that are

representing our organisation; they are just the leading counsels. We

do have Muslim lawyers in the team.
I can give you the name of Barrister Husain Ibrahim. In any case, the

atrocity committed by the Army in Zaria is not a religious problem, it

is just a case of the Army proving to citizens that it is above the

There is no law in Nigeria that says if the Chief of Army Staff is

stopped on a highway as they claim, which we dispute, soldiers can

fire on civilians for two days, killing over a thousand.

The judicial commission is not going to probe whether our activities

are in line with the Islamic law; so there is no need hire a Sheikh to

defend us. To us, Christians are our brothers in humanity and also our

neighbours in the country, so why shouldn’t we hire them to defend us?

Apart from Barrister Ibrahim which you mentioned, are there other

Muslims on your legal team? Or did you approach some Muslim lawyers

who turned down your briefs?
From your question, probably you don’t even think that there are

lawyers among us. Far from it. There are many lawyers who are active

members of the Islamic movement.
We are ordinary followers of Islam. We are not different from any

Muslim in pursuing his day to day means of livelihood. We are engaged

in various professions. We are not a sect or a closed group that

abhors this and that. We only abhor that which Islam forbids. And what

Islam forbids is known to everybody.
So, unlike Boko Haram, your group is not against Western education?

The Islamic Movement has never been against Western education since

its inception about 40 years ago. Look, our leader is a graduate of

ABU Zaria.
Sheikh Turi, who was shot during the carnage in Zaria and still his

corpse has not been handed over to us is a graduate of University of

Maiduguri and the International Islamic University in Sudan.

Dr. Mustapha Sa’id is a medical doctor, who has been missing since the

military attack on Sheikh Zakzaky’s residence. Within the movement,

there are university lecturers, engineers, Doctors, Islamic ulama,

businessmen, who are all excelling in their chosen endeavours.

Moreover the Islamic Movement and Boko Haram are poles apart. First

and foremost, we are not a product of Western security agencies. Boko

Haram and ISIS are all products of the war against Islam which is

being waged globally.
And the Islamic Movement is not. In terms of faith, we follow the

teachings of the household of the prophet, who are termed Shia, who

believe in the totality that there is no compulsion in religion. But

the Boko Haram are followers of what they call Sunna. So, we are

completely different in all facets of organisational approach and

Also the Islamic Movement is the only religious group that is

independent of any government subvention. That is why we can tell

those in power the truth, for they don’t pay us, let alone dictate the

tune for us.
But we know of some Islamic religious organisations that have taken

from the largesse dished out by Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) from the

arms-gate controversy of late.
What evidence do you have that the chairman and some of the members

are biased against your group as it was widely reported?

Point of correction, the Chairman of the Commission is not being

accused of bias against us.
Rather, there are three members that we have enough evidences that

they are not only biased against the Islamic Movement, but they even

wish its members dead. In fact, the military attack on the Movement in

Zaria was what they have been advocating for decades in their speeches

and writings. Those that we are against their being in the commission

are Professor Umar Labdo, Professor Salihu Shehu and Malam Salihu

From the writings of these people, they can best be described as a

bunch of religious bigots, who are calling for the killings of Shia

Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. Visit the Facebook page of Prof

Umar Labdo, you will see who he really is. So, what business do they

have with the commission?
You also disagreed with the decision of Kaduna State government to set

up the inquiry because, as you had argued, it is also a party to the

crisis.The Federal Government which you prefer to set up the

commission is also linked to the crisis because the Army is one of its

establishments. Why do you prefer the Federal Government to Kaduna

state government?
It is not that we prefer the Federal Government setting up a

commission of inquiry to the state government’s.

Our demand is for the establishment of an impartial Judicial

Commission comprising representatives of human right groups, but not

people who are known enemies of the Islamic Movement.

How can you explain the fact that other parties involved in the crisis

have representatives on the commission but the Islamic Movement has

The Army, Police, Kaduna State and the Federal Government are fully

represented, but not even a sympathiser of the Islamic Movement is on

the commission.
Who are the representatives of the Police, the Army and Federal

Government on the Commission like you alleged?
You know the commission has 13 members or 14.I think I don’t need to

mention their names and resumes, because Governor Nasir El-Rufai has

done so already. But among them are retired officers of the police,

the Army and the Federal Government agencies.
Although officially no one said that they are representing those

bodies, but an adage says “once an officer always an officer.”

The people of Gyellesu where Shiekh Ibraheem El Zakzaky lived in

Zaria, had addressed a press conference where they endorsed the action

of the soldiers.According to them, the arrest of Zakzaky has liberated

them from bondage. Is it correct to say that your group was harassing

the residents?
It is not correct that Sheikh Zakzaky and members of the Islamic

Movement have been harassing their neighbours. If it is true, the

Sheikh will not have stayed there for over 15 years.Not only that,

those that are complaining were paid to say what they said against the

But if they care to go back to 2011, it was the Sheikh that prevented

the sectarian fight that erupted after the elections from reaching

Many Christians sought refuge there.Ask the Christian community in

Zaria, they can testify further on this. And it was the Sheikh that

stopped the infighting amongst the gangsters.
He brokered truce between them, touching on the Islamic spirit of

brotherhood. That singular act made Gyellesu almost crime free.Not

long after his absence, following the Sheikh’s arrest, the

neighbourhood is now returning to its former self – a den of

But it was alleged that your sect had mounted road blocks all over

Gyellesu and whenever the Sheikh drives around Zaria, his convoy

disrupted the free flow of traffic.How true is this allegation?

The allegation is false. It is true the Sheikh has a convoy, but it is

not like the governor’s convoy or that of the Minister.

Look, Sheikh Zakzaky has millions of followers, which means he also

has many enemies, that necessitate his moving in convoy in case of any

But the convoy never prevented others from using the road. In fact, we

have our own trained traffic controllers, who used to assist in having

a smooth flow of the traffic.As for road block leading to his house in

Gyellesu, it was mounted after the Army killed his three sons.

And immediately after the election, which saw the downfall of Goodluck

Jonathan’s government, the roadblock was removed.They were mounted

there as a precaution against any evil plot against the Sheikh by the

government and its agents.
Kaduna State government has warned against public processions but your

group seems to be defying that order. Last Sunday, your people held

one of such processions at Mararraban Jos.Why is the Islamic Movement

still holding such processions, seeing that it resulted to killings

the last time it was done at Tudun Wada area of Kaduna?

We are just exercising our constitutional right of assembly and

protest. We have been wronged as a community, and we have the right to

express our dismay peacefully.
This, we have been doing all over the major cities in the North. And

they have been peaceful until when we were attacked by the security

agents as it happened in Kaduna on the December 15, 2015, where 14

people were gunned down by the police.
We will continue to protest peacefully, this is our right, and nobody

can deny us that.
As a top member of the Islamic Movement, have you met with Zakzaky

since he was arrested?
I’m not a top member of the Islamic Movement; I’m rather an ordinary

follower of Sheikh Zakzaky.
Having said that, it is unfortunate that our solicitors have not met

him even as I’m talking to you. Also, none of his followers has set

eyes on him.We are worried over this.
We will keep on calling well meaning Nigerians to intervene in this matter.

How serious are his injuries, it was reported that he was taken

outside the country for medical treatment.Which country was he taken

It was a three man committee of the Nigeria Supreme Council for

Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) that saw the Sheikh sometime early January,

but since then, nobody has seen him again.
According to Professor Dahiru Yahya who saw him, the Sheikh sustained

six bullet wounds, and he is recuperating well. But imagine yourself

being shot six times, how will you fare?
With the death of Muhammad Turi and the incarceration of Zakzaky, who

is the new helmsman of the Movement?
Our leader is still Sheikh Zakzaky, so there is no new helmsman.The

Islamic Movement is well organised according to the teachings of

Islam, therefore there is no problem of leadership.

Is it true that members of the movement are being harassed by security

agents and that you have gone underground in order to avoid being

So far there has not been further arrest of members of the movement

apart from those that were arrest during those three days of orgy of

violence unleashed by the army.
Nobody has gone underground, because we are just like any other

Muslim; we are going about our day to day activities. No any member of

the Islamic Movement has committed any offence for him to be arrested.

What does the Islamic Movement really want? Does it want to enthrone

an Islamic state in Nigeria? Or it wants to be allowed to practise

Islam the way it perceives it?
The Islamic Movement stands for justice, peaceful coexistence and

development not only in Nigeria, but the world over.

Every Muslim wants an Islamic community, but it is not enthroned the

way it is being portrayed to the world by some ubiquitous groups. But

the main mission of the Islamic Movement is to practise Islam as

espoused by the Prophet and his household.
Is it true that Iran is mounting pressure of the federal government to

release Zakzaky?
Iran is not mounting pressure on the Federal Government, it just sides

with the oppressed, which in this case is the Islamic Movement. Don’t

forget that over 1000 people were killed by the Nigerian army within

two days.
This is a monumental human tragedy. Calls were made by even Britain

and US, that this matter should be investigated impartially. So why

single out Iran when it made its own call?