Reacting to a BBC Hausa service interview with Head of our Media Forum, the Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, yesterday 02/01/17 spelt out moves by the Federal government that point to the Federal Government’s desire to circumvent the ruling by the Federal High Court Abuja that ordered the release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky within forty-five days of the judgement. He stated that some people have appealed against the judgement without mentioning who. He also alluded to some non-specific security concerns behind the government’s continued illegal detention of the Sheikh. He further exonerated the President of blame in the whole saga, insisted that it is a ‘Kaduna state affair.’
This is not the first time the spokesman is frantically attempting to absolve the president of all blame in relation to the massacre that started in Zaria. There is however simply no basis to clear the President of complicity in the organized annihilation of members of the Islamic Movement nationwide. Neither the Nigerian Army that started the genocide in Zaria nor the Department of State Security (DSS) that is detaining Sheikh Zakzaky illegally is an agency of Kaduna state government. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed forces and the chief security officer of the country. He failed to take any action against those who violated the Constitution of the Federal Republic, killing citizens with impunity and burying in mass graves as recommended by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry. That the President never even issued condolences to families of those killed, nor sympathised with the victims of the attack, even after the JCI had declared massive extra-judicial killings of hundreds of citizens by soldiers, of whom he is the ultimate commander, does not absolve him of complicity.
Additionally, the Presidential aide feigned ignorance of the fact that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), who was a respondent in the suit that sought the enforcement of the fundamental rights of the Sheikh, is a federal minister representing the President in that case. Furthermore, the scope and scale of the attack on the IMN in the last one year was not limited to Kaduna, but is a carefully orchestrated plot that some states are only obviously helping to execute. The unique pattern of attacks in Kano, Jos, Sokoto, Funtua and Kaduna could not have been a Kaduna state affair alone as he claims. We are not deceived by the implicit silence of the Federal government for most of the past one year with regards to this.
The Presidential aide also tried to justify the continued detention of Sheikh Zakzaky by raising some spurious allegations of security concerns. This pretentious excuse is what the authorities usually resort to when reasons fail them. How does obeying court injunction in releasing someone they have kept illegally incommunicado for over one year amount to security threat? We firmly believe that there is no security reason worth its salt that would warrant further denial of the Sheikh’s fundamental rights. The authorities have failed to pin him and his family to any criminal charge more than a year in detention.
Explaining further why they have not and may not abide by the Court ruling, he said some people have appealed the judgement, without mentioning those who appealed, in what court and on what grounds. Mere appeal of a case however does not stay execution of a judgement except if a higher court of competent jurisdiction gives an order to that effect. He did not however mention a contrary order setting aside this judgement requiring the release of Sheikh Zakzaky, even as the deadline for his release approaches. It only seems fairly certain therefore that the government appears set to play ostrich.
It is our firm belief that the Presidency rather needs to swiftly obey the court order by the immediate release our Leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky as a first step, rather than denial of its definite complicity in the Zaria massacre or levelling of some ghost security concerns. The World as a whole is watching.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF IMN