From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Four years after a court allegedly granted freedom to the embattled leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, members of the group, otherwise known as the Shiites, have demanded an unconditional release of their leader and his wife without further delay.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Chairman, IMN Resource Forum, Prof. Abdullahi Danladi, said the demand for the release of their leader had become necessary in view of the 4th anniversary of the expiration of the court judgment ordering his release.
“Today marks the fourth anniversary of the expiration of the 45 days caveat within which the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government was ordered to release our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, in a historic judgment delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on the enforcement of his fundamental rights and that of his wife, Malama Zeenah Ibrahim. Failure to obey that judgment by President Muhammadu Buhari four years on, and counting, makes it one of the worst violations of the rule of law and a monumental abuse of the rights of the couple.
“The learned jurist had ruled that the continued detention of the duo violates their rights under Section 35 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution and the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Consequently, he ordered the release of the ailing Sheikh and his wife within 45 days of the judgment and that both must be provided with suitable accommodation and security. The court further ordered the payment of N50 million by the Federal Government to both.
“Delivering the judgment, the presiding judge held that the continued detention of El-Zakzaky and his wife by state instrumentality was an arbitrary act. He averred that no extant law within the country’s statutory legal framework and external ones subscribed to by the state had allowed anybody to be held against his or her wishes. He further said that the defence of the respondents was not tenable in law, adding that the state had not justified why the applicant and his wife were held under protective custody as it claimed then.
“The judge had warned the government in that judgment that holding the Sheikh for so long amounted to a great danger, insisting that if the applicant dies in custody, which I do not pray for, it could result in many needless deaths.”
However, Buhari has stubbornly kept deaf ears to that, and contemptuously continued to detain them. Instead of releasing them, Buhari opted to file bogus charges against the Sheikh and his wife through the Kaduna State government.”
Continuing, Danladi warned: “Failure to obey court orders by the government is an open invitation to anarchy as observed by a professor of Law, and this is at variance with the democratic principles it claims to be running. Before arriving at any decision to release any individual or grant him bail, the courts must have first reviewed the facts presented by all parties and listened to arguments from both the government and such citizens. It is, therefore, totally unacceptable for a government to choose the judgments it would follow and those it will ignore.
“We will leave no stone unturned in demanding his unconditional freedom using all legitimate means at our disposal. We, therefore, once again unequivocally call for his unconditional release, his wife, and all the others still in detention since the Zaria massacre by the Nigerian Army in December 2015.”