The Presidency of Nigeria Friday said the case involving the leader of the Shiites, Ibrahim El Zakzaky, is no longer in the hands of the Federal Government. “As far as this country’s Ministry of Justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain,” President Muhammadu Buhari spokesman, Garba Shehu said in a statement on Friday.
Shehu said the “issue of El-Zakzaky is before the court in Kaduna and his supporters should focus on his on-going trial instead of causing daily damages, disruptions and public nuisance in Abuja. The Federal Government no more has hands in the matter and to that extent, the government at the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violations of court orders as being trumpeted every day,” he added.
El-Zakzaky was charged with murder in April 2018. His alleged offence took place during the December 2015 clash between the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and a convoy of Nigeria’s army chief, Tukur Buratai. On Tuesday, July 10, some members of the sect again clashed with security agencies over the continued detention of their leader, El-Zakzaky.
The Shiites leader has remained incarcerated despite several court rulings ordering the President Buhari-led administration to release him. Hundreds of the sect members stormed the National Assembly complex in Abuja and engaged security operatives in a fierce confrontation. Having overpowered the personnel at the first gate, the protesters marched to the second gate in a bloody climax that claimed the life of a policeman and two sect members.
Some of the protesters allegedly snatched a gun from a policeman and opened fire. Security men were also said to have shot at the protesters. But Shehu has insisted that the threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere because President Buhari will not ask the country’s judiciary to abandon due process and set a suspect free. He said the court is expected to pass judgment on the leader who has remained in detention for over three years.
“The destruction of public property in the name of protest is not within the right of this group of Shiite members and no government anywhere would have tolerated a situation where any group would take over public roads in cities as they have done in Abuja and interfere with the rights of other citizens who are prevented from reaching their destinations,” he added.
Garba, however, appealed to the Shiite group to stop deliberate provocations that result in violence and fatalities and allow the trial of El-Zakzaky to take its course.
Meanwhile, business activities were grounded yesterday, as several shops in Kaduna remained closed, while many people stayed indoors, following the arraignment of El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zinat at the state High Court. Fear gripped the people in Kaduna in response to continuing protests and demonstrations by supporters of El-Zakzaky, which have turned increasingly violent.
Besides, El-Zakzaky and his wife were arraigned at the High Court where they are facing charges of culpable homicide, amid heavy security presence. Major roads and highways in Kaduna metropolis were manned by armed police, with lorry loads of armed security men patrolling the city to prevent violent protests by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
The court adjourned hearing in the application for permission to travel to India for medical attention filed by El-Zakzaky and Zinat to July 29, 2019. They were seeking to travel for medical attention in view of their failing health condition while in detention.
State Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Dari Bayero, who briefed journalists after the hearing, said the adjournment followed an application by the counsel prosecuting the IMN leader. He said the team requested more time to examine the medical reports that accompanied the application to verify its genuineness before arguing the matter in court. Justice Darius Khobo granted the request and adjourned till July 29 to allow more time for counsel to prosecute the case.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Yoruba Youth Council (PYYC) has cautioned members of IMN against further protests in Lagos State and the southwest region. Speaking in Lagos, National Chairman of the group, Dayo Jacob, accused some politicians as being behind the activities of the sect, saying: “IMN must explore peaceful means of expressing their grievances if they are indeed genuine.
“As a group dedicated to sustaining the ideals of the Oduduwa empire, we have reviewed the sudden resurgence of violent tendencies by the Shiites members with a view to ascertaining the motives behind their actions and putting issues in their proper perspectives.”