Femi Falana Writes Attorney-General, Demands Immediate Release Of Sheikh Ibraheem Elzakzaky And Wife Haija

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Barrister Femi Falana, the lawyer representing detained Shiites’ leader in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Elzakzaky, has sent a letter to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, demanding the immediate release from detention of his client.

The Sheikh was arrested in December 2015  along with his wife following clashes between members of his movement, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, and the entourage of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai.

The Army claimed the Shiite members were trying to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff but IMN members denied that allegation and argued that it was simply a premeditated attack from members of the Sunni-Islam in Nigeria.

Late last year, a court ordered the government to release Sheik Zakzaky as well as his wife. But the government has not obeyed the court order. On Sunday, his lawyers sent the letter below to the country’s justice Minister

The Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice.

Federal Ministry of Justice,

Maitama, Abuja.

We are Solicitors to Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife, Hajia Ibraheema Elzakzaky on whose behalf we write this letter. 

In a considered judgment delivered on December 2, 2016 the Federal High Court (per Kolawole J.) declared illegal and unconstitutional the detention of Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeenat Ibraheem Elzakzaky and ordered their immediate release from the custody of the State Security Service within 45 days. Since the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State government had  engaged in the illegal destruction of the residence of our clients in December 2015 the court ordered the Federal Government to provide a temporary accommodation for them. The court also awarded reparation of N50 million to the couple. 

Although the deadline expired on January 16, 2017 the State Security Service has refused to release our clients from custody in utter contempt of the valid and subsisting order of the Federal High Court. The Federal Government has equally refused to comply with the other terms of the judgment. However, we are not unaware that your office has filed an appeal against the said judgment at the Court of Appeal. But since the filing of the appeal has not varied or suspended the orders of the learned trial judge you are duty bound to advise the Federal Government to comply with the clear and unambiguous terms of the judgment. 

Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case we are compelled to remind you of the case of Nigerian Army v Mowarin (1992) 4 N.W.L.R. (pt 235) 345 where the Court of Appeal dismissed the motion for stay of execution of the judgment of the Lagos high court for the release of the appellant. In justifying the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Kalgo J.C.A. (as he then was) held that “the refusal  of the application will not cause any injury to the applicant, but if the application is granted, the respondent will continue to suffer personally in detention after the court has declared her detention unlawful ab initio.” Based on the dismissal of the application for stay of execution the then military junta released the respondent  from further custody. 

In line with the  principle of law espoused by the Court of Appeal in the case of Nigerian Army v Mowarin (supra) your office has not filed any application for stay of the execution of the judgment of  the Federal High Court which has ordered the Federal Government to release our clients from the unlawful custody of the State Security Service. 

In view of the avowed commitment of the Buhari administration to operate under the rule of law we urge you to use your good offices to ensure that our clients are released from illegal incarceration without any further delay. However, if our request is not granted forthwith we shall not hesitate to pray the Court of Appeal to refuse to entertain the appeal filed by your office against the judgment of the Federal High Court until the Federal Government has purged of the  contempt of the Federal High Court. 

Yours Sincerely,

Femi Falana SAN 

cc: Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN,

Acting President of Nigeria,

Office of the Vice President, 

Aso Rock,




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