A Kaduna High Court, yesterday discharged and acquitted leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
Justice Gideon Kurada in an eight-hour ruling, upheld the no-case submission filed by the defendants, saying the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the duo.
For the past four years, El-Zakzaky and wife had been on trial over eight-count charge of alleged culpable homicide, disruption of public peace and unlawful Assembly among others ,levelled against them by the Kaduna State government.
Counsel to the defendants, Marshal Abubakar who represented the lead counsel in the suit, Femi Falana, SAN, told journalists after the trial ended in Kaduna that "the trial of Sheik El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat has come to end as the court found them not guilty of the alleged crime, filed against them by the Kaduna State Government.
"The court found that the charges filed in 2018 pursuant to the Penal law enacted by the State Government in 2017 were over an alleged offence committed in 2015. The court presided by Justice Gideon Kurada,held that the charge was not supposed to be filed in the first place, as the government cannot arraign someone for a said crime that was not an offence at the time.
" The court ruled that the charge was incompetent as the court agreed that El-Zakzaky and his wife had committed no offence. The court also holds that the event of December 12 2015 and December 15, 2015 was not an offence and the court was emphatic that none of the events of Dececember 12, 2015 can be attributed to the defendants for an offence.
"The court, thereby, discharges and acquits the defendants, as there should have been no charge in the first place. No party asked for cost of fine"
However, the lead prosecution team, Mr Dari Bayero, declined comment on the ruling as he drovea out of the court premises.
Reacting, President of IMN Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, among others, said with the victory in court, the false charges filed against their leader and his wife had finally "been punctured for good after almost five years of excruciating illegal detention. It is a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity."
Also reacting, one of the lawyers to Sheikh El-Zakzaky, Sadau Garba, said his client would approach the Court to seek damages against the Kaduna state government for the deprivations and travails he faced during his prolonged incarceration.
Garba, who briefed journalists in Abuja, among others, said "None of the 15 prosecution witnesses proved they committed the offence. So, the court has discharged and acquitted Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife of all the charges.
"However, we will certainly seek damages against the Kaduna state government for all the deprivations and the travails our client suffered. They now need to go home, have some rest and attend to their urgent medical needs,"