The case of Shaikh Zakzaky: Four Years and No Justice

January 16 marks the anniversary of the expiration of the 45-day caveat in which Justice Gabreil Kolawole of Abuja Federal High Court ordered the release of Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzay in Nigeria. 

As of 2021, four years have passed since the caveat and Justice Kolawole’s order has yet to be carried out. 

Abdullahi Danladi, the Chairman of the Islamic Movement Nigeria Resource Forum, addressed the media in Kaduna on January 16, 2021, vowing the continued demand for the release of Shaikh Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenat Ibrahim. 

Danladi stated, 

“Today marks the fourth anniversary of the expiration of the 45 days caveat within which the Buhari-led Federal Government has been ordered to release our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, in a historic judgment delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on the enforcement of his (El-Zakzaky) fundamental rights and that of his wife, Malama Zeenat Ibrahim.

“The learned Jurist had ruled that the continued detention of the duo violates their rights under Section 35 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution and the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Consequently, he ordered the release of the ailing Sheikh and his wife within 45 days of judgment, and that both must be provided with suitable accommodation and security. The court further ordered the payment of N50m by the Federal Government to both.

“The judge warned the government in that judgment that holding the Sheikh for so long amounted to great danger, and that if the applicant dies in custody, which I do not pray for, it could result in many needless deaths…  

“…But instead of releasing them, the Federal Government opted to file bogus charges against the Sheikh and his wife through Kaduna State government. Failure to obey court orders by the government is an open invitation to anarchy, as observed by a professor of law, and this is at variance with the democratic principles it claims to be running.”

“Failure to obey that judgment by President Muhammadu Buhari four years on makes it one of the worst violations of the rule of law and a monumental abuse of the couple’s rights. It is to the glory of Allah that, four years into the judgment by the court, Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife be set free…

“Many international bodies, including Amnesty International and the European Union, have all urged the Nigerian government to demonstrate respect for the rule of law and release the cleric.

We will continue to do so, irrespective of the government’s use of brutal force against us. We will leave no stone unturned in demanding for his unconditional freedom, using all legitimate means at our disposal.

We, therefore, once again unequivocally call for his unconditional release, the release of his wife and all the others still in detention since the Zaria massacre by the Nigerian Army in December, 2015.”

2015 Zaria Massacre

Over 350 Shia Muslims were killed in the 2015 Zaria Massacre as the Nigerian army opened fire on peaceful gatherers. Shia individuals, indiscriminate of age were shot; many were burned alive. 

After the incident, the military covered up happenings as bodies were taken, the site was burned and bullets were removed from the streets. 

Witnesses account for bodies being held temporarily at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital previous to being moved to undisclosed locations.  The bodies of those killed were later found in a mass grave and the whereabouts of many injured that day remain unknown until today.   

Shaikh Zakzaky, the head of IMN, and his wife were arrested following the attack in Kaduna and denied due-process for over three months. 

Despite international demand for the release of Shaikh Zakzaky and the prosecution of those involved in the Zaria Massacre, the IMN was officially banned in July of 2019 on claims of “acts of terrorism and illegality.” 

Investigations into the activities, Federal and Independent, of the IMN has not shown any acts of violence or terrorism. Shia Rights Watch notes that the outlawing of the group is an active effort of the government to thwart human rights and justify federal violence against minority groups across Nigeria.  

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