Over eight years have passed since the Nigerian army massacred more than 1,000 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)in Zaria, and they arrested the group’s leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzakky, and his wife, Malama Zeenah El-Zakzakky, after killing 3 of their children. The two were released after six years due to widespread pressures, nationally and internationally, while the state illegitimately held on to their passports. However, justice has not yet been served to those injured, those whose homes were destroyed, and the families of those killed. Instead, the Nigerian state has continued to kill members of the IMN.
The devastating bloodbath which took place on 12 December 2015 wiped out 39 families. 548 men, 297 women, and 193 children were killed. 23 of the women killed were pregnant women at the time. Buildings linked to the IMN were destroyed. The APC governments of President Muhammadu at the federal level and Kaduna State’s Governor Nasiru El-Rufai at the state level dumped the bodies of the people they killed in 347 mass graves.
The sheer brutality of the massacre and repression of the Shi’a members of the IMN confirms Sheikh Zakzakky’s assertion that the crackdown was pre-planned. The justification of the Nigerian state that it was a response to road blockage when the Chief of Army Staff General Buratai was passing, was just a deceitful tactic.
A year earlier, in July 2014 the army had killed not less than 35 members of the movement during its International Quds Day rallies, in support of the Palestinian cause. These included 3 children of Zakzakky. The Nigerian state murdered six of his nine children in the spate of a year and a half.
Several members of the IMN have been killed since the 2015 Zaria massacre for demanding justice for the killed and the release of their leader. Many more have been arrested. And Alex Ogbu, a journalist and member of the SWL was killed in January 2020 while covering a “Free Zakzakky” protest of the group in Abuja. The federal government disregarded court orders for Zakzakky and Malama Zeenah’s release for six years. And the report of a commission of inquiry over the massacre for those involved to be prosecuted has never been implemented. The killings did not stop with the release of the Zakzakkys. In November 2023, one person was killed and many people injured when the IMN organised a protest in Kaduna state against Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.
Enough is enough! This must stop. As we remember the Zaria Massacre, we call for justice! All involved in the massacre must be prosecuted. The government must compensate the families of all those killed. We are calling for justice for the Zaria Massacre and for the dismantling of the oppressive system that caused it. We call for the unity of all exploited and oppressed people in this fight.
by Khalid KAKAKI