Islamic Movement in Nigeria assails Buhari over detained leader El-Zakzaky exactly 3 years after court ordered his release

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The Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Monday decried what it termed “the continued illegal detention” of its leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife despite a valid federal high court order for his release exactly three years ago.

In a statement, the head of the Media Forum of the Islamic Movement, Ibrahim Musa, said Buhari was breaking the law by disobeying court orders.

He warned well-meaning Nigerians that the contemptuous attitude of the federal government towards court orders is an invitation to anarchy.

“This stunning disregard for the rule of law and human rights does not come to the Islamic Movement as a great surprise because Buhari’s utter disregard for court judgements is legendary, and statistics has it that he has disregarded courts in at least 40 occasions since the inception of his government.  In the case of Sheikh Zakzaky, the government has at various times proffered different contradictory reasons for its flagrant contempt of court. One of the most absurd of such was the statement attributed to the President himself that national security is over and above the rule of law. By this his warped belief, he has stirred the country towards the path of dictatorship, to which all other well-meaning Nigerians must stand and fight against.”

*Below is the press statement in full:*

Today marks the third anniversary of the historic judgement delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on the enforcement of the fundamental Rights of the illegally detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah Ibrahim. Failure to obey that judgement by President Muhammadu Buhari three 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 rule 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 judgement and that both must be provided with a suitable accommodation and security. The court further ordered the payment of 50 million Naira by the federal government to both.

The judge had warned the government in that judgement that holding the Sheikh for so long amounted to 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 Kaduna state government.

This stunning disregard for the rule of law and human rights does not come to the Islamic Movement as a great surprise because Buhari’s utter disregard for court judgements is legendary, and statistics has it that he has disregarded courts in at least 40 occasions since the inception of his government.  In the case of Sheikh Zakzaky, the government has at various times proffered different contradictory reasons for its flagrant contempt of court. One of the most absurd of such was the statement attributed to the President himself that national security is over and above the rule of law. By this his warped belief, he has stirred the country towards the path of dictatorship, to which all other well-meaning Nigerians must stand and fight against.

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 judgements it would follow and those it will ignore. In the same vein, Senior Advocate of Nigeria once said: “What is national interest that rule of law must be sacrificed for? Rather, it is in the national interest of any government to obey and subject Nigeria to the rule of law. Where there is the rule of law, every interest, including that of the nation is safeguarded. A country without the rule of law is a lawless jungle.”

It is to the glory of Allah that 3 years into the judgement by the court that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife be set free, we have never chickened out or relented in demanding for his unconditional release. We will continue to do so irrespective of the government’s use of brutal force against us. We will leave no stone unturned in demanding for 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.

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