Nigeria’s intelligence service known as DSS has splurged more than N164.5 million on feeding Sheikh Ibraheem El -Zakzaky, leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
The leader of Nigerian Shiites Muslims has been in the custody of the DSS since December 12, 2015, until Justice Gideon Kurada of a Kaduna State High Court ordered that he be moved to the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Kaduna in December 2019.
Recall that Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture had in November 2018 declared that the sum of N3.5m was being spent on the Sheikh on a monthly basis, an announcement which at the time provoked public ire.
Due to El – Zakzaky’s detention since December 12, 2015, the cost of feeding the Shiite leader amounts to a total of N 164. 5 m in 47 months.
In a separate report, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el- Rufai, clarified that the sum was not only for feeding the Shiite leader but on security as well.
“The N 3.5m monthly feeding on El -Zakzaky is not only about his food, but other expenses on security men attached to him. The security men are permanently stationed with him, they surround where he is kept,” he said.
However, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana ( SAN), told The PUNCH on Sunday that the cost of feeding El -Zakzaky may continue to rise since he is in prison and is therefore still being taken care of with taxpayers’ money.
Falana explained that El -Zakzaky was granted bail many times but the orders were ignored by the Federal Government until the Kaduna State Government decided to charge the IMN leader to court nearly three years after his arrest.
The activist said, “ El -Zakzaky is now in prison but he is still being taken care of by the Federal Government with taxpayers’ money. ”
The Islamic cleric was arrested after soldiers clamped down on his supporters, killing at least 347 of them. The army accused them of blocking a public road being used then by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt . Gen . Tukur Buratai.
He was detained without trial for several months, causing his lawyer, Falana, to file a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
In December 2016, Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered that El -Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, be released from detention into an accommodation that must be provided for them within 45 days.
The Federal Government, however, ignored the judgment.
He remained in custody for another 17 months until he was arraigned by the Kaduna State Government in April 2018.
Since his arrest, El – Zakzaky’s s followers have been protesting his detention in several parts of the country some of which have led to bloodshed.