The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday (02/12/2016) ordered the unconditional release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenat Ibraheem. Delivering the judgment, the Presiding Judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife by state instrumentality was an arbitrary act.
Justice Kolawole said no extant law within the country’s statutory legal frameworks and external ones subscribed to by the state had allowed anybody to be held against his or her wishes. Consequently, he awarded N25m fine each to Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife as damages for the unlawful detention.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria welcomes this historic judgement that has vindicated our position since the very brutal attack on our leaders, members, and structures last December, which is a clear infringement on our fundamental human rights as guaranteed by all known sane laws as affirmed by this ruling.
The judge showed a full grasp of all the issues at stake as he succinctly captured the matter at stake when he said he views the whole matter as that of religious “intolerance,” where a majority Sunnah is oppressing a minority Shi’ah. He was right on point. Instruments of governance were deployed to execute sectarian and foreign agenda at all levels. The government appeared to have adopted an official policy from the start of demonizing the Islamic Movement and its leadership. That was then used as the premise on which to justify their extermination plot. This was evident from the farce they staged and videotaped at Hussainiyyah for show at NTA and other paid media outlets. It was also clear from the way and manner the military and its officers met various people and groups to contract them to smudge the Movement in order to validate the massacre. It is against that background the learned judge posited that he was of the view that the Sheikh and the Movement which he leads “need not be demonised, but that they should be allowed to practice the faith they choose.”
This case pertained only to the issues of liberty, freedom and Human Rights of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife. The landmark judgement obtained will however certainly impact on the numerous others presently on-going as well as all other matters yet to be clarified such as the crime of mass grave that government officials disclosed earlier. It remains to be seen how the Nigerian government is going to react to this judgement. We are not unmindful of the penchant of this government to disregard court orders on spurious excuses. We will continue our peaceful and patient campaign until justice is done in its entirety.
We wish to use this opportunity to also appreciate all the “Free Zakzaky Campaign Family” comprising of people of conscience, human rights bodies and activists, journalists, traditional, community, political and religious leaders who lent their voice in this campaign for the unconditional release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. You stood by us in thoughts and prayers, physically and in spirits till this moment. Thank you and may you all be rewarded abundantly.
Finally, we will use this opportunity to press it on the authorities holding Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, that they must expedite action to allow them access to their doctors, lawyers and any other person they so wish to see without let or hindrance. They must also be allowed to go wherever they so wish to go, as free people, whenever they desire so that they can attend to their medical needs now the courts has set them free.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF IMN