By Abdulmumin Giwa
Government has been cautioned by the team of lawyers representing the Islamic Movement in Nigeria IMN at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry JCI investigating the said Army/Shi’ites clash against what is seen as a hypocritical plan to ban the Islamic Movement using terms that do not relate to the Zaria pogrom.
This was stated by the head of the IMN legal team Barrister Festus Okoye while briefing newsmen today in Kaduna on the recent stance of the team.
He said, “The determination of the evolution of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, its legal status, organization, structure, membership, growth, assets, resources, culture and practices have nothing to do with the events that took place in Zaria between the 12th and 14th of December 2016”
He added that if the government had to determine the evolution and growth of the IMN, it also has to do the same for the Army “The Kaduna State Government should also go ahead to determine the legal status and evolution of the Nigerian military.”
He reminded the government of the constitutional rights of the IMN to commune and congregate “Those that set up the Commission are aware that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) guarantees freedom of association and no government is permitted to abridge the said rights.”
The team of lawyers also expressed concern over government’s plan to ban the Islamic movement using the commission as a means, “We believe that the said clause was inserted in a desperate move to find justification for the banning of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria” he said.
He added, “The Legal Team of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria will not be used and will not allow itself to be used to legitimize a pre-determined position and agenda against the Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.”
The team of lawyers representing the Movement has therefore withdrawn its participation and representation before the commission.
Barrister Okoye explained that the team took the stance after tireless but unsuccessful efforts to meet and confer with the leader of the Movement Sheikh Ibrheem Zakzaky who they are representing at the Commission that has been in detention since the incident.
He explained how the efforts of the team to meet the leader of the movement have not yielded any positive results “From the inception of the Commission, we made it clear that we appeared out of respect to the Commission. We also made it clear that Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as well as its spokesperson and custodian of its properties. We therefore consider it out of place for the Commission to turn around and claim that it is satisfied that the team of lawyers has been properly briefed by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. What the Commission has done and seeks to do is to graft the team of lawyers to a brief in which they are yet to have any form of briefing from the leader of the Islamic Movement and his wife that have been in the custody of the security agencies since the 14thn day of December 2105 “ he said.
Barrister Okoye further declared as unethical for the team of lawyers to continue representing a client it has never gotten any briefs from or to present a written memo on his behalf without his consent. “We believe it is unethical and professionally wrong to pretend to be representing a client and the wife that have been held by the government and have not been seen in public” he said.
He added, “We cannot in good conscience continue to pretend to represent a client that we are not sure of his state of health considering the fact that he was shot severally by the Nigerian Military before he was taken away. We cannot in good conscience continue to represent a client that we are not aware whether he is alive or dead”.
Also in attendance at the briefing was Suhaila Ibraheem Zakzaky the daughter of the leader of the movement who briefly explained how her father was abducted and how the Army shot at them and killed those present at the house including three of her brothers.
She also said that her father was shot at severally as well as her mother adding that several people were burnt alive as the house was set ablaze by the Army. They were all taken away by the Army and she was released after spending four days in detention.