9 November 2017

Nigeria: Release El-Zakzaky, Wife, They Are Critically Ill, Falana Tells Buhari

Photo: Premium Times
Shi'a members demanding the release of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Abuja.

Following the withdrawal of the petition against the Nigerian Army, the counsel to detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, on Wednesday made a fresh demand for his release on health grounds.

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to release Ibraheem El-zakzaky, the IMN leader, and his wife, Zainab El-zakzaky, as they both need urgent medical attention.

"Sheik El-zakzaky already lost his left eye and he is on the verge of losing the right eye sequel to the brutal treatment meted out to him by the armed soldiers and the State Security Service has denied him foreign medical treatment recommended by the local specialists who had attended to him. Even the alternative arrangement put in place by the family of the Sheik to bring eye specialists from abroad to treat him in custody has equally been rejected without any legal justification", Mr. Falana said in a letter to Mr. Buhari titled 'Fresh request for the release of Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky and Hajia Zainab Elzakzaky.'

Mr. Falana said though Mr. El-zakzaky's health is deteriorating and his wife's condition is far worse.

"It may interest Your Excellency to know that the medical condition of Mrs Zainab El-zakzaky is by far worse than that of her husband. For reasons best known to the State Security Service, some of the bullets lodged in her body during the brutal attack of December 14, 2015, have not been extracted up till now. In the circumstances, she has been subjected to excruciating pain and agony, on a daily basis. Her life which is currently in danger may be saved and prolonged if she is allowed to receive adequate medical attention without any further delay", Mr. Falana said.

The radical lawyer said the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court had on December 2, 2016 ordered the release of the couple from the illegal custody of the State Security Service, SSS. The court also awarded them N50 million and directed the federal government to provide them a temporary accommodation.

He said he was compelled to ask President Buhari to consider ordering the release of the couple since the federal government is not prepared to direct the SSS to comply with the court order.

Mr. Falana also pointed out the fact that the Judicial Commission of Enquiry which was set up by the Kaduna State government to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the violent attack unleashed on the Shiites in December 2015 did not recommend the indefinite incarceration or prosecution of Mr. El-zakzaky and his wife for any criminal offence whatsoever.

"Therefore, they should be allowed to regain their fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004", he argued.

Mr. Falana, therefore, urged Mr. Buhari to release the couple and allow them to travel abroad for medical attention.

Mr. El-Zakzaky's detention followed an attack on his followers by troops of the Nigerian Army in Zaria Kaduna State, leading to the death of over 300 IMN members. The army accused the Shiites of blocking a road to be used by the army chief, Tukur Buratai.

The couple are in detention in spite of a court order ordering their release. The government, however, said they are kept in protective custody "for their own safety."

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