The police released tear gas canisters while preventing followers of Ibraheem Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), from gaining access to the federal secretariat in Abuja.
Members of the Shi’a sect, who embarked on a protest, displayed placards with inscriptions such as ‘Free Zakzaky’, ‘PMB’s Change Mantra Genocide and Crimes’.
They also chanted solidarity songs.
In a statement signed by S. Ahmad, coordinator of the group in the federal capital territory (FCT), said despite the arrest of Zakzaky and “gruesome human right violation”, the movement still remained peaceful.
“The world is aware of the gruesome murder of over one thousand brothers and sisters of the IMN under the dynamic leadership of his eminence Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky by the Nigerian army between 12th to 14th December, 2015,” the statement read.
“In the attack, many were burnt to death including a biological sister Shaikh Zakzaky and his nephew. Worst still is that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were shot several times and incarcerated while legal proceedings to gain his freedom is being frustrated by government.
“Despite this gruesome human right violation, the brutal crackdown on innocent citizens, the arrest of Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and hundreds of other brothers and sisters, destruction of properties, perpetrated by the Nigerian army in Zaria under the watchful eyes of the government and the propaganda instituted by army and the government, seeking to cover up their crime against humanity, the movement still remain peaceful and chooses to follow legal processes.
“The 1999 constitution expressly gave citizens the right to worship and association. In addition to that there are other regional and global protocols guaranteeing such rights.
“We can recall that brothers and sisters of the movement give the highest blood donation in Nigeria. The NBA awarded Shaikh Zakzaky for that. Why the massacre of peaceful students and Nigerian citizens despite their profound contributions in the country?
“The academic forum of the IMN hereby calls on the national assembly to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of the ambassador of peace, Shaikh Zakzaky, his wife and other brothers and sisters detained unjustly in Kaduna and Plateau states including primary school pupils and a university female lecturer.