Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, popularly known as Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky has narrated his alleged ordeal and that of his wife while in custody of the Department of State Service.
The Shiite leader accused the Nigerian government of seizing his passport and not allowing him seek medical attention abroad even though he has fragments of a bullet scattered all over his body which are poisonous.
El-Zakzaky made the allegation against the DSS during an interview with The PUNCH.
He said; “Let me start by thanking journalists for being with us all through. They have undergone a lot of tribulations. And, in fact, one of them was killed in action in July 2019 in front of the federal secretariat. So, we thank them very much for standing by us. And when we came out I did not immediately give a chance to journalists to interact with us, because we were hoping that (after our release from detention) it would take only a little time for us to be allowed to go out (of the country) for medical attention. That was what we were hoping for, because we came out with health issues.
“My wife and myself, we still have fragments of bullets in our body. My wife have a full bullet (lodged in her body) which they (doctors) have been unable to remove here (in Nigeria). They say they could not remove it; but experts from outside (the country) promise that they can do it. In addition to that, she has for the past five years, since July 2016, been chair-bounded; she can only walk using a wheelchair and she prays while sitting on a chair. And they know very well that she needs a knee replacement, which, of course, if done in this county it may take the patient about three months to be able to walk again. But elsewhere it may take less than a week.
“Myself, I have fragments of a bullet scattered all over my body and these fragments are secreting poisonous substances – lead, cadmium and others. And with the recommendation of doctors here, including government doctors, I need what they call ‘Chelation theraphy,’ which will remove the poisons. The fragments also have to be removed, which they (doctors here) say they cannot remove because they are very tiny and are moving around my body.
“So, we were hoping at that time (we were released) that it would be a matter of weeks before we would be given the chance to go out for medical attention; but up till now, they (government) have not allowed us to do that. I have to apologise to you (journalists) for not giving you this chance at the very beginning.
“On what led to his arrest and detention, he said; This is an occasion when we remember the Zaria massacre, which happened six years ago. It happened on December 12, 13 and 14, 2015 – three consecutive days. Soldiers in the Nigerian Army had cordoned off Zaria town, all the roads leading to the town; and they carried out systematic killing of people they considered unwanted. Whatever name they gave us at that time, they were said to be clearing people they called “Shi’ites”. In fact, in Gyallesu (my residence in Zaria), when they found someone they wanted to shoot, they would ask if he was a Shiíte and once the crowd said yes, they would just fire the person! And if the crowd said, “No!” they would allow the person to go. So, clearly, they were saying that they were destroying Shia once and for all.
“On the 14th of the same month, they reached me and opened fire on us – myself and my family, instantly killing three of my sons in front of me, and injuring both my wife and me and some others who were with us. Luckily enough, for the wisdom of God, we don’t know why, but He so designed that my wife and I would survive the shootings that nobody could have survived at all! God is able to do anything He wishes.
“On December 15, they brought us to Abuja, first to the military hospital, and later at 12am midnight, they changed hospital from military hospital to DSS (Department of State Services) hospital. And then, they (DSS) kept us in their custody for some years, and then they took us back to Kaduna (still in their custody); and finally, they took us to prison. And as you all know, at the end of the day, the court found us innocent, discharged and acquitted us in the same way three other different courts have discharged and acquitted so many others who were arraigned on the same or similar charges (as ours).
“I find that up till today, they still say, “El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested following a clash between his followers and the Nigerian Army when his people blocked the road on the day the Chief of Army Staff was passing.” This matter was taken to court, where they accused some people of blocking the road. They claimed we instigated the blockage. Based on the same allegation about 153 others were also arraigned before different courts. The charged included murder of a soldier.
“But the first court, which gave its verdict sometime in July 2018, not only said that those arraigned before it (77 of them) did not commit the crime they were accused of. In fact, the court pronounced that no such crime was committed. This is very important. There was no blockage of road whatsoever and nobody killed anybody! The army cordoned off everywhere and killed everybody they could identify as Shia. Whatever you might be, because at a place we call Husseiniyyah (an Islamic centre) near Unity Bank, they thought that Shi’ites wear black clothes, and because the uniform of workers in that bank is black they shot all of them.
“My house is situated about three kilometers away from the area where the said road was blocked. I don’t know whether my house also blocked the road against the Chief of Army Staff. They went and cordoned off the road and killed everybody they could find, including our neighbours. A lot of students in the Congo Campus of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria were also killed. Some students of the Federal College of Education, which is in our neighborhood, were also killed; some of them are not even Muslims, so they killed everybody they could find.
“And then, very importantly, the first court said the road was not blocked; nobody blocked any road. The second court gave similar verdict. And the third court, in fact, brought up part of my speech in its verdict. I had said, “If the soldiers come to attack us in our territory don’t block their way.” That was very clear and the judge even continued to mention this particularly. So, where was blockage of road here? Simple, they could not say why they attacked us; it was very clear that this was a premeditated attack in order to destroy all of us.”
El-Zakzaky also disclosed that Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed was not lying when he said millions were budgeted for him and his wife’s welfare while in detention. He however stated that the money was allegedly diverted by the DSS as they took care of himself and his wife.
He said; “Actually, we were not given the opportunity to tell the real story while we were in detention because the people who were detaining us made things difficult for us. The real truth is that all through our detention we fed ourselves. Since the time we reached Kaduna, after we were released, nobody gave us a single bottle of water! We were feeding ourselves. Even during our stay in Abuja, we were feeding ourselves. But this is something that cannot be disclosed because it was illegal. Legally, they were supposed to feed us. But they didn’t want anybody to hear that we were feeding ourselves. For the entire five years, seven months that we were in detention, we fed ourselves; nobody gave us a bottle of water!
“We were even paying electricity and water bills, while in detention. We were paying also for the fuel to power the generator. We bought our own generator in Abuja, even when we were in detention and we were buying fuel to run it.
“He was actually not lying. The DSS told him so. But what I learnt was that about N4m was taken out of the FIRS coffers for our feeding every month. But that money was going to their pocket; not a single kobo was given to or spent on us. It is true that they were taking the money out of the treasury but they did not spend it on our feeding. It is a lie that they were feeding us with this money!
“He mentioned N3.5m; that was what they quoted him to have said. But from my own source, I learnt that it was N4m every month.”
Gov. Makinde renews pledge to deliver good governance to Oyo people
Oyo State Governor ‘Seyi Makinde Tuesday, promised that his administration will continue to use the state’s commonwealth for the good of the people in all the nooks and crannies of the south west state.
The governor, who stated this while receiving hundreds of members of the Iseyin Development Union, led by His Royal Majesty, the Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Dr. Abdul-Ganiyy Salaudeen, said all zones in the state will witness rapid development under his watch.
A statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), to the Governor, Taiwo Adisa, indicated that Iseyin residents led by the Aseyin and well-meaning indigenes of the town paid the solidarity visit to the governor at the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.
While addressing them, Governor Makinde maintained that residents of Iseyin and all other towns in the state should expect more monumental projects across the state, adding that these projects will welcome new faces and bring development to the state.
He explained that the only thing his administration can do is to leave the state better than it met it, calling on all and sundry to join hands with the government in its bid to develop the state.
Governor Makinde, who promised that his administration will continue to spread out and develop the state, said: “I want to greet the Kabiyesi Aseyin of Iseyin, other chiefs, and other dignitaries here present.”Sincerely, I am overwhelmed by this show of appreciation and the reason is that you are acknowledging the works I have been doing since I came into government.
“But indeed, it is your money that is working, not the money of Seyi Makinde’s father. It is our commonwealth and the essence of government is to use the commonwealth for the common good of our people and this is what we will continue to do as an administration.
“The only thing we can do as a government is to leave the state better than we met it. And, fortunately for my people in Iseyin, where the geography places Iseyin zone, you can accommodate.
“You can see that the journey from Moniya to Iseyin is just 45 minutes now, and it means that someone can be working at Secretariat and come from Iseyin every day. So, it is not necessary that all of us must squeeze ourselves inside Ibadan. “We want to spread out and develop the state as a corridor for all the zones in Oyo state.
“Let me plead with you that development is still ongoing and the government is doing what it is supposed to do in terms of infrastructure. “The development will come naturally from investors but what we need from you is your cooperation with the government.
“Among the projects, we want to carry out is the Trans Motel in Iseyin, which should have been done. But there are few people who are constituting themselves as clogs in the wheel of progress. Baba, please we want you to talk to them because we want nightlife in Iseyin. We want those traveling to Ado-Awaye to have the opportunity to stay and spend the night at Iseyin.
“Once the university also takes off, we need places for people to sleep. So, join hands with the government.
“If the economy becomes expanded, there won’t be poverty in the land. So, I want you to visualize what is coming. Iseyin is being linked to Oyo and when the road is completed in six months’ time, it will only take 20 minutes from Iseyin to Oyo. Iseyin is being linked to Ogbomoso and when the road is completed, it will be a maximum of an hour. So, we should expect an economy that will welcome new faces and development.
“Within 20 years, my focus is to make Iseyin link up with Ibadan. So, I want you to be prepared that development is almost at the arrival point to Iseyin and Oke Ogun zone.
“As you have come to show appreciation, we will double our effort as a government. “We will not disappoint ourselves and we will not disappoint you as well. I thank you very much and God bless.”
Earlier, the National President, Iseyin Development Union, Alhaji Bayo Raji, said that the visit was to thank the Governor Makinde-led administration for the various monumental projects across Oyo State and especially in Iseyin and Oke Ogun land, which includes; the completed Iseyin-Moniya Road spanning 65 kilometers, which link Ibadanland and Oke Ogun; location of LAUTECH College of Agriculture and Renewable Resources in Iseyin; the ongoing Iseyin-Oyo Road construction.
Others, he said, include the recently approved Iseyin-Fapote-Ogbomoso road and the street light electrification at three strategic locations within the Iseyin metropolis as well as the completion of the Saki Township Road and the ongoing Saki-Ogbooro-Igboho Road construction.
Raji added that the government has equally completed various abandoned projects across the state, noting that the state has never had it so good since independence.
He maintained that within two to three years, the present administration has laid new standards for governance, saying: “With what your administration has done, we are assured that the future of Oyo State will be better.
“We cannot thank you enough. But we shall continue to pray for you and your government for redirecting the state policy, showcasing modern standards, and serving as a model in leadership, governance, and party management.”
Also speaking, Senator Gbenga Babalola, appreciated the governor, saying that the people of Iseyin could not but identify themselves with Makinde, who he described as an uncommon governor, a promise keeper.
Babalola stated: “We cannot but identify ourselves with you. When you were seeking election, we were skeptical because we have always been inundated with promises that were never kept. But since you became governor, you have shown fairness. You have inculcated fairness in governance.”
The Lawmaker equally declared that as a mark of appreciation to the governor, the Iseyin community has decided to confer on him and his wife the titles of Aare Atunluto and Yeye Aare Atunluto of Iseyinland.
NCC boss, Danbatta charges staff to sustain effective service delivery
Members of staff of the Ibadan Zonal Office (IBZO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) have been tasked to sustain their commitment to regulatory effectiveness in keeping with Commission’s strategic objectives.
The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, made this call recently in Ibadan when he visited the IBZO of the Commission en route Osogbo to deliver the 10th and 11th Convocation Lecture of the Fountain University.
Speaking later at an interactive session with staff of the Zonal Office, Danbatta commended the zonal controller and his team on the good work they have been doing in ensuring the people of the zone feel the presence and impact, as well as the significance of the Commission’s regulatory activities.
In a news release signed Tuesday by the NCC Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, EVC urged the staff of the Commission not to relent on the successes that have been recorded, imploring them to rededicate themselves to their assigned responsibilities, in order to sustain effective delivery of regulatory services to the people of the zone in keeping with Commission’s commitment to ensuring greater regulatory effectiveness.
Danbatta asserted that his appeal takes life off the fact that the Commission and its staff have become major drivers of the Federal Government’s vision for the birth of a robust digital economy as encapsulated in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020-2030 and the Nigerian national Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020-2025.
“The NCC CEO reminded the staff of the necessity to internalize the regulatory imperatives of the Strategic Management Plan (SMP), 2021-2024, as well as the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) 2021-2025, both of which are streamlined implementation roadmaps by which the Commission plans to actualize the national digital economy and broadband targets as articulated by the Federal Government” the statement said.
In his response, the Controller, Ibadan Zonal Office of the Commission, Yomi Arowosafe who spoke on behalf of the staff of the Zonal Office, expressed gratitude to the Management for the visit and promised that the zonal office would sustain effective delivery of NCC’s regulatory services to the people of the geo-political zone.
The EVC, management and other staff in his entourage were earlier received on arrival at Ibadan by Arowosafe, who led the EVC and his team on a tour of the Zonal Office.
In the EVC covnvoy were: NCC’s Director, Projects, Abigail Sholanke; Director, Digital Economy, Dr. Austin Nwaulune; Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde; Head Research and Development, Kelechi Nwankwo; and other senior management staff of the Commission.
Recall that the IBZO was established in October 2005 to bring the Commission’s regulatory services closer to the South West geopolitical zone, except Lagos and Ogun which are in the purview of Lagos ZonalOffice. However, the jurisdictional sphere of the Ibadan Zonal Office, however includes other South West states and Kwara State.
The recently constructed NCC Zonal Office building at Ibadan became fully functional in 2015 when the Commission’s Management directed staff to commence operational activities from the new complex.