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Sheikh Zakzaky Must Not Be Allowed To Die,’ Falana Warns FG

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, has cautioned the Federal Government against the continued detention of Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

He gave the warning in a statement sent to Channels Television on Tuesday.

Falana wondered why the government has continued to keep the leader of the Shiites in custody despite court judgements ordering his release.

He added that medical experts have confirmed that Sheikh Zakzaky was ill and recommended that he should be flown out of the country for proper treatment.

He warned that the nation cannot afford another insurgency war, especially at a time when it was battling banditry and other forms of crimes.

Read the full statement below:

On December 12, 2015, the army violently attacked the Shiites during a religious convention in Zaria. At the end of the attack over 1,000 Shiites were reported to have been brutally massacred on the orders of Army High Command.

The official justification for the massacre was that the Shiites had wanted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, General Yussuf Buratai. Without any autopsy or identification, the slaughtered Shiites were given a mass burial in an unmarked grave in Mango village in Kaduna State.

Even though the leader of the Shiites, Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky was not at the scene of the attack his residence was invaded by the rampaging troops two days later. The troops set the house ablaze, shot at Elzakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeinab Elzakzaky and killed 3 of their sons in cold blood in their presence.

As if such barbaric assault was not enough the army arrested and held Elzakzaky and his wife in custody before handing them over to the State Security Service. At that stage, the houses of Elzakzaky and other leaders in Zaria were demolished by the Kaduna State on the orders of Governor Nasir El Rufai.

After the massacre of the Shiites and the demolition of the houses of their leaders, the Kaduna State government instituted a judicial commission of enquiry to probe the violent attack.

The detained Elzakzaky was prevented from responding to the allegations made against him and his group at the enquiry. But the judicial commission found that there was no plan by the Shiites to assassinate General Buratai.

It was also revealed at the panel that the 347 Shiites were massacred by the army in violations of the Army Rules of Engagement and the Geneva Conventions. Apart from condemning the brutal massacre of the Shiites, the judicial commission recommended that the culprits be prosecuted.

Instead of implementing the recommendation by prosecuting the well-known murderers, the Kaduna State government turned round to charge over 300 Shiites with the culpable homicide of a soldier who was killed by his colleagues during the attack.

But the defence team convinced the Kaduna State High Court to free the Shiites as they were not involved in the commission of the offence. Accordingly, the charge was dismissed for want of evidence while the trial court proceeded to discharge and acquit all the defendants.

Meanwhile, the suit challenging the illegal detention of Elzakzaky and his wife was decided in their favour by the Federal High Court on December 2, 2016.

The presiding judge, Kolawole J. (as he then was) directed the Federal Government to release the couple from unlawful custody, pay them N50 million reparation and provide them with a temporary house since the army had burnt down their personal residence.

But the Buhari regime has characteristically treated the court orders with arrogant contempt. Curiously, the Court of Appeal has refused to hear the application to commit the Director-General of the State Security Service for contempt of court!

Upon our legal advice, the Shiites approached three separate High Courts to challenge the violation of their right to assemble and protect peacefully. The Shiites won the cases against the Federal Government as the courts upheld their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

But out of sheer impunity, the army has killed about 50 Shiites at Abuja for protesting against the continued detention of Elzakzaky and his wife.

As the Federal Government could no longer justify the illegal detention of Elzakzaky and his wife, it directed the Kaduna State government to file a charge against them. Hence, they have been charged with culpable homicide at the Kaduna State High Court for the death of the same soldier.

Pending the trial, the team of local and international physicians who examined Elzakzaky and his wife on the orders of the trial court confirmed that their health has deteriorated and recommended that they be allowed to travel abroad for urgent medical treatment.

In particular, Elzakzaky has lost an eye while he is the process of losing the other one. The wife can no longer walk as a result of the gun wounds inflicted on her during the military attack of December 2015.

Without adducing any reason whatsoever the Federal Government has ignored the recommendation of the physicians.

The Shiites are currently protesting the refusal of the Buhari regime to release Elzakzaky and his wife from custody to enable them to travel abroad to receive urgent medical treatment at their own expense.

Elzakzaky must not be allowed to die due to medical neglect as it may provoke a crisis of monumental proportions.

Therefore, the Federal Government should implement the unanimous resolution of the House of Representatives for the release of Elzakzaky and his wife without any further delay.

Finally, it would be recalled that the Boko Haram sect declared a war on the people of Nigeria in 2009 following the cold murder of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf by the Police.

Since then the nation has known no peace. This nation cannot afford another war of insurgency which is being provoked by the contemptuous conduct of the Federal Government in the handling of the case of the Elzakzakys.

Femi Falana SAN

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