By Joseph Jibueze
Activist-lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has demanded the release of leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeenat Ibraheem from unlawful detention.
In an April 5 letter to the Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Falana said his clients had been denied access to their family and doctors since their arrest.
Falana said last December 12, thousands of armed soldiers allegedly unleashed violence on IMN members in Zaria, Kaduna State, on the orders of the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, who claimed the unarmed civilians wanted to assassinate him.
The lawyer said although his clients were not on the scene of the attack, the troops invaded their residence at Wali Street, Zaria, last December 14.
“The troops set the building ablaze and killed three of our clients’ children in their presence and thereby subjected them to untold mental agony.
“Thereafter, the armed soldiers shot our clients several times. As a result of the brutal attack Sheik Zakzaky lost his left eye. Doctors are battling to save the right one.
“While in custody, both of them have gone through many surgical operations to extract bullets from their bodies,” Falana wrote.
To compound the physical pain and mental anguish his clients were subject to, Falana said the police and the DSS held them incommunicado for over three months.
He recalled that during a similar attack in 2014 allegedly by a detachment of the Army, three of Zakzaky’s children were also killed without any lawful justification.
Falana said the report of the Commission of Enquiry set up by the government was yet to be released, while the military personnel, who allegedly killed his clients’ children and other unarmed civilians, have not been brought to justice.
Some of the victims who survived the deadly attacks, Falana said, have been charged with culpable homicide and sundry offences by the Kaduna State Government.
“Notwithstanding that such criminal charges are pending at the Kaduna High Court, the Kaduna State Government has set up a judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate the same subject matter.
“Even though our clients have not been told that they breached any law, they have been denied access to their lawyers, personal physicians and family members for over three months.
“Our clients were only permitted to meet with us last Friday after several requests made by us had been turned without any legal basis.
“In the light of the foregoing, our clients and members of the IMN have resolved not to participate in the proceedings of the said Judicial Commission of Enquiry in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.
“Finally, we hereby demand for the immediate and unconditional release of our clients from illegal detention within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter,” Falana.