11 July 2018

Nigeria: Court Adjourns Zakzaky's Case to August 2

Photo: Mbazri/Wikimedia
Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

A Kaduna State High Court on Wednesday adjourned the case instituted against the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem Zakzaky, to August 2.

The presiding judge, Justice Gideon Kurada, adjourned the matter to enable the prosecution serve the 3rd and 4th defendants in the case.

Zakzaky and his wife are standing trial on an eight-count charge, bordering on culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disturbance of public peace, among others.

Journalists were prevented from accessing the court premises by security agents and had to wait at Independence Way, Kaduna for interviews with the counsel of both parties in the case after the court sitting.

Chris Umar, prosecution counsel, told journalists in an interview after the court session that the adjournment was to enable them serve the 3rd and 4th respondents in the charges.

Also in an interview, Maxwell Kyom, counsel to the Islamic cleric, said the matter had to be adjourned to August 2 because the other respondents in the matter were yet to be served.

He however declined to mention the names of the two respondents, saying their names cannot be mentioned in the matter until they are served.

Kyon said: "In a criminal matter, you cannot proceed until all the accused are served.

"That is part of the reason we have not been able to make much progress. All the while and since the matter was instituted, the third and fourth defendants have not been served."

He said further that a bail application had been filed before the court with the hope that the application could be entertained.

"The bail application could not be taken today because not withstanding that we filed it over a month ago, the state only responded yesterday (Tuesday) evening, so we asked for a short time to respond," Kyon said.

He also frowned on the barring of journalists from covering the court proceedings, arguing that every member of the society who is interested in the case should be allowed into the courtroom for the proceedings.

"Once that privilege is removed, you begin to think whether certain questions of whether there is fair trial begin to arise.

"Opportunity should be created for people to come to the courts because the idea of justice is not only to be done, but must be seen to be done," he said.

Zakzaky's arraignment crippled business and commercial activities in the heart of Kaduna city as many people stayed home for fear of an outbreak of violence between followers of the Shiite leader and the police.

Heavily armed security personnel were deployed in strategic places within the city to forestall any outbreak of law and order.

Vehicular movements were not allowed along these roads and commuters, especially civil servants and traders going to the central market had to trek after being subjected to thorough screening.

Shops, offices, banks and schools within the city centre, particularly within the areas cordoned off by security personnel were closed during the court session.

The fear that pervades the city was fuelled by messages that were being circulated among residents on Tuesday, of a possible attack by Zakzaky's followers during the court sitting.

Ibrahim Musa, spokesman of the IMN, had in a reaction Tuesday, dismissed the speculations, saying the group had no plans to stage any protest during the trial Wednesday.

A clashed between the Shiites and the police led to the killing of a policeman when Zakzaky was arraigned in court on June 21.

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