That EL-Zakzaky Interview
By Philip Agbese
I read the news making the rounds due to the interview granted by the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zarzaky, with laughter on how he attempted to be clever by half with allusions and statements that were not credible. I ordinarily expect that Ibrahim El-Zarzaky should at this point be reflective of his life and all that his group has put Nigerian through from time immemorial.
In my opinion, the interview is intended to serve as a comeback strategy for his group to attract public sympathy. Else how could one justify a statement alleging that he paid for electricity and other bills while in detention?
More hilarious is the mention of him paying for his feeding while in detention. But he forgot to add that he also spent on accommodation while in custody. I am entirely at a loss here. What was Ibrahim EL-Zakzaky trying to achieve, or what message was he trying to pass? Whatever be the case, the attempt was comical.
It is on record that the activities of the IMN group have caused untold hardship to the people of Zaria and other parts of Northern Nigeria. So much so that at some point, they constituted themselves into a parallel government in the country and with no regard for the laws of the land. And when nemesis caught up, he is now trying to change the narrative most feebly.
I am not convinced the interview strategy was effective. I say this because there was a systematic attempt to paint the IMN as not a group but an ideology. Just maybe Ibrahim El-Zakzaky forgot that he has a history of violence. Let me refresh his memory.
A Google search on IMN brought the following out: “The Islamic Movement of Nigeria is a religious organization which hopes to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. It was founded by Ibrahim Zakzaky, who was inspired by the Iranian Revolution and rejected the authority of the Nigerian Government.”
It’s getting interesting as the IMN is only an ideology and nothing more truly. There are no members; they do not congregate. They do not have a flag. They have not been associated with acts of violence in their years of existence.
They have not also been receiving financial, and logistics support from Iran in their quest to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria. The list is indeed endless. And what Ibrahim El-Zakzaky should do in this instance is to retrace his steps and instead tender an unreserved apology to the families of all those who fell victim to the nefarious activities of his group over several years.
He should spare us details of his travails when the long arm of the law caught up with him. He should also spare us the drama of poisonous substances moving around his body. And let me also remind him of one of his many tricks that failed when he was granted permission to travel to India for medical treatment.
On record, upon arriving in India, he asked to be checked into a five-star hotel instead of a hospital. According to John Campbell, a senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Zakzaky may not have liked the strict terms of his trip. Zakzaky wished to be checked into a hotel upon arrival in India, Campbell said, but instead was taken directly to a hospital and surrounded by security personnel, restricting his ability to move freely in the country.
“What he had wanted to do in India was to resume, essentially, his political activity,” Campbell said. “And so he anticipated being unfettered and found himself to be very fettered, indeed, and that, I think, is at the heart of his discontent.”
That is El-Zakzaky for you, the ever garrulous fellow whose motives is always ulterior and laced with violent tendencies. This same loquacious fellow who has blood all over his hands would still have the temerity to come to the public space, churning all manners of incoherent allegations.
Maybe he wished to be availed a five-star hotel treatment while he was in detention. And hear him: “We were even paying electricity and water bills while in detention. We were also paying for the fuel to power the generator. We bought our generator in Abuja, even when we were in detention, and we were buying fuel to run it.” If this is not despicable, I do not know what else to call it.
I am convinced that his long absence from violence has affected his cognitive skills hence his analysis in the interview he granted. Hear him again: “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. 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.”
I could not help but let out a big laugh when I got to this point in the interview. The only thing that came to my mind was that this man was aiming at something. Maybe he is systematically calling for funds towards rebuilding his empire. Or perhaps he is acting the script of some influential people to divert attention. Whatever the case, the delivery is poor, and no Nigerian should take him seriously. He is delusional about what has befallen him. To think that he cannot constitute himself into an authority in Nigeria anymore might be the remote cause of his ramblings.
Reading the interview was comic relief for me. I encourage others who want to get a good laugh to read the EL-Zakzaky interview as we await more comics from the stable of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
Agbese is a human rights activist and founder, Global Amnesty Watch based in the United Kingdom.