Shiite Drags Army, Kaduna To Court; Demands N2 Billion Compensation For Unlawful Detention Of Leader
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as Shiite, has filed a law suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja against the Nigeria Army, Police and the Kaduna state government, demanding two billion naira as compensation on the grounds of ‘abuse of the fundamental rights’ of the leader of the group, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
Counsel to the IMN, Festus Okoye, while addressing newsmen in Kaduna said leader of the Movement has been denied rights to life, fair hearing, personal liberty and privacy.
This law suits came in the wake of the group’s withdrawal from participation in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the clashes in Zaria between the Nigerian Army and IMN members in December, 2015.
According to the Counsel, IMN sought a court order so as to compel the respondents in the suit to pay a sum of two billion naira for damages and restrictions to those rights, while demanding also for the immediate release of the leader and his wife, Zeenat, who have been in detention for about four months.
Okoye further reiterated that, “The continued detention of the Islamic leader from 14th day of December, 2015, till date without charging him to court, before a properly constituted court of law is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates his fundamental human rights to fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“The arrest of the leader of the movement on 14th day of December, 2015, and his detention till date without access to his medical doctor is unconditional, as it violates his fundamental rights to personal liberty and health, as enshrined in Section 35 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and Articles 6 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004,” Barr Okoye asserted.
Worried by the extra judicial killing of the El-Zakzaky’s three children by the army, Okoye said, the arrest of El-Zakzaky in his residence without warrant also by the army was a flagrant violation of his fundamental rights to privacy and private property, guaranteed by Section 35 (1) (4) (6) of the Constitution of Nigeria.
Okoye further confirmed that three children of the Shiite’s leader were killed by the Army and over two hundred of their members have been charged to court by the Kaduna state government for criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide and other offences, and are still in detention at the Kaduna central prisons.
On whether the IMN will eventually go back before the commission of inquiry to present their side of the story, Barrister Okoye said, “Going back to the commission is out of the way because they have discovered that some members of the commission are partisan and have in the past expressed dislike for the movement publicly; adding that, even after completion of sittings and recommendations are made, neither the commission nor the state government, which set up the commission, has power to implement the recommendations because the Nigerian Army is under the federal government.”
Okoye also stressed that as far the counsel is concerned, three parties are responsible for the clash in Zaria – IMN, Nigerian Army and the Kaduna state government, but it is only one party that is held in captivity. “The leader, his wife and over 200 of its members are held captive, and for the commission to do a thorough job, members of the IMN mush have confidence in them.”
“During our conference with the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, we notified him of the fact that that Kaduna State government has set up a judicial commission of inquiry to look into the remote and immediate causes of the Army/Shiite clash and also of the fact that scores of members of the movement lost their lives during the clash, while over 200 of them are in prison custody on allegations of attempted murder of the Chief of Army Staff.
“He instructed us to challenge the composition of the commission and its impartiality in court, and also instructed that we file an application to enforce his fundamental rights, which we agreed has been and are still being infringed upon by his continued detention without trial, and without his having been informed of the basis upon which he was being detained,” Okoye explained.
Describing the condition of El-Zakzaky and his wife, another counsel to IMN, Barrister Maxwell Kyon, who was part of the delegation that met with El-Zakzaky in Abuja, said, the leader of the Movement now walks with a limp in his left leg; he has lost weight; lost his left eye and his left hand has lost its motor function, while his wife who was shot three times in the stomach looks strong.