On Thursday, 20/4/2017, in a video clip posted on the official tweeter handle of the presidency, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was seen speaking to the Guardian newspaper defending the federal government’s refusal to comply with a Federal High Court’s judgement that ordered the release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife from illegal detention.
In the said video clip, the VP attributed the failure to comply with that landmark judgement to a purported appeal against the judgement by the federal government.
It is both curious and ridiculous that the VP, not only because of his professional calling, but also as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) would justify contempt of court on mere appeal of a judgement without a contrary ruling or stay of execution order by a superior court.
Certainly, the Vice President knows quite well that an appeal against a lower court judgement does not justify its disobedience without suspension by a superior court. It is therefore a gross abuse of the legal process to continue to detain Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife for over four months after that judgement without a contrary order by a competent court.
As a demonstration of what he termed avowed commitment of the Buhari administration to operate under the rule of law, the VP should use his good offices to ensure that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife are released from illegal incarceration without any further delay rather than defending the indefensible.
The case of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife is the worst case of human rights violation, with respect to the right of personal liberty since the colonial regime. It is the height of impunity that has ever been committed by a democratic government in this country to detain without court order and without charges for fifteen months. It is even worse when a court has ordered the release of such a person, and the government contemptuously holds him.
Even previously under a military dictatorship headed by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, nobody was detained without an order made, pursuant to a decree, the States Security Detention of Persons Decree Number 2 of 1984. Nobody was detained without an order made by the detaining authority. Today, there is no such law. So, our case cannot be worse under a democratic dispensation as against what occurred in that military junta.
Finally, we will like to reiterate our call for the immediate release of our Leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife as ordered by the Federal High Court, Abuja. We also call for the immediate release of hundreds of IMN members languishing in Kaduna Prison and many detention centres across the Country.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF IMN