After months of rigmarole and denials that the Presidency knew next to nothing about the illegal detention of our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, reports in some of the mainstream media, quoting sources in the Presidency, has finally let the cat out of the bag.
The report has it that the government tendered a lame excuse as to why it refused to obey an order of the Federal high court to release Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife, citing what it termed “public interest and security concerns.” Perhaps even more baffling is the declaration by the presidency that the Sheikh’s wife, Malama Zeenat is not under detention but is merely ‘taking care of her husband.’
This ridiculous explanation is clearly an afterthought. Instead of the Presidency to show the World why it is defying court orders with impunity, it continues to wobble and quibble while defying the rule of law.
If Malama Zeenat is simply keeping her husband company in detention as the Presidency claims, why did Nigerian soldiers whose ultimate Commander (in-Chief) is the President, have to shoot her in the first place while taking her into custody? Why did they have to brutally kill three of her sons, right before her eyes before taking her along? Why is her movement restricted since then by the DSS, and she isn’t allowed to see whomever she so desires as a free citizen? Why didn’t they state all this all along in the court throughout the proceedings of the case she instituted seeking the enforcement of her fundamental rights? The folly in this argument by the Presidency is self-evident.
The same can be said about the case of Sheikh. The Presidency is simply shifting the goal post. What security concerns or public interest are they talking about? Why is it taking them over a year to realize this, and only after a competent court had ruled that their detention was illegal, unconstitutional and he should be released unconditionally? Apparently, the Presidency has forgotten it earlier told the Court that the Sheikh has not committed any offence and that he is not being detained but is in ‘protective custody.’
Being that the government has reneged in its constitutional responsibilities to respect and protect the rights of all citizens according to law, it felt pressured to make these unconvincing explanations. Clearly, it is doing a bad job of it all in the public as it did in the court. The public cannot be taken for a ride. There should be no excuses. Nothing short of total obedience of the court’s orders will subsist for the government. The World has seen clearly that the country is rapidly gliding towards dictatorship.
The whole world now knows clearly what transpired on that black weekend in December 2015. Government forces went to the private residence of the Sheikh without provocation and shot their way inside to reach him, breaching his rights to privacy. They attacked him along with all those with him and fatally wounded them before being taken into custody, largely incommunicado without access to medical care or their lawyers. Government had all the time in the World to frame charges against them. It didn’t over a year in detention. In fact, it told the court that they were blameless, and were merely being protected. The court was not convinced of that quack reason and therefore rightly ordered their release. If the non-specific but dubious charge of being threat to public interest and security was genuine, the government would have since presented their case to the courts. They cannot continue to be the prosecutors and the judges at the same time.
The Presidency should be reminded of what the Federal high court said in its ruling, which it made abundantly clear that: “The failure (whether by deliberate action or inadvertence) of the 1st (DSS) and 3rd (AGF) Respondents to effect the release of the Applicant herein and his wife from the 1st Respondents custody or any illegal custody whatsoever, upon the expiration of the 45th day from today, such failure shall not only constitute a deliberate act of disobedience of these orders, but will crystallize into fresh cause of action of infraction of the Applicants rights and of his wife to personal liberty guarantee by CFRN, 1999 (as amended).” This is unequivocally stated.
Islamic Movement in Nigeria therefore totally rejects the incoherent position of the Presidency in this matter. We reiterate our appeal to all Nigerians to prevail on the government to release our leader and his wife to seek medical attention. We also re-echo our call to the international community to isolate and sanction the government and its agents, who make brazen disrespect of the rule of law and abuse of citizens’ rights their distinguishing pastime.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF IMN