El-Zakzaky’s fate is in Court—Kaduna Attorney General
The Attorney General of Kaduna State and Commissioner of Justice, Aisha Dikko, has clarified that the fate of Malam Ibrahim El Zakzaky, leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria(IMN), is in the hands of the court.
The commissioner further stated that the ongoing legal processes should not be the subject of a media campaign or pressure of any kind, affirming that the Kaduna State Government has not intention to withdraw the charges and would rather leave it to the court to decide the case.
In a statement that she issued on Thursday, the Attorney General said that both El Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat ‘’ are facing an eight-count charge, including culpable homicide punishable with death, before the High Court of Kaduna State.’’
The Attorney General recalled that the court had earlier refused the accused persons’ application for bail following their arraignment in August 2018.
‘’At its last sitting on 5th December 2019, the Court adjourned hearing in the matter to 6thFebruary 2020, and ordered the transfer of the couple from DSS facilities to the Kaduna Correctional Centre for the duration of trial,’’ she added.
According to the Attorney General, ‘’it is the High Court that will decide the case, and the rule of law demands respect for the prerogatives of the court and the ongoing legal process.’’ Hajiya Dikko warned against any attempt to reprise the media frenzy that stampeded some officials to whisk the El-Zakzakys to New Delhi without waiting for the court to determine the specific conditions for the medical leave granted to the couple. She said she hoped that all parties have learnt the necessary lessons from the debacle that the New Delhi trip became.
Dikko pointed out that ‘’like any other person facing criminal trial, Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and Malama Zeenat Ibrahim have been accorded due process and are being represented by their lawyers. ‘’
The Commissioner of Justice maintained that ‘’there is no court order pending against the Kaduna State Government on the matter. Rulings and orders that were secured against the Federal Government do not have any bearing against the Kaduna State Government which was not a party to those proceedings and against whom no orders were made. ‘’
‘’Any issues regarding compliance or non-compliance with a court order by the DSS or the Federal Government cannot be used to vitiate the judicial proceedings the Kaduna State Government has commenced against the El-Zakzakys,’’ she argued.
The statement reminded that an eight-count charge was filed against some accused persons on April 19, 2018, including El Zakzaky and his wife, after months of painstaking investigation, which covered a period of about three decades.
According to the commissioner, other accused persons that were charged to court included Yakubu Yahaya Katsina and Sanusi Abdulkadir Koki for alleged criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide punishable with death and unlawful assembly.
The accused were also charged with alleged wrongful restraint, disturbance of public peace and voluntarily causing grievous hurt as well as inciting disturbance, and breach of Public Peace, the commissioner added.
The Attorney General recalled that ‘’these charges arose following the Zaria Ccashes of 12th-14thDecember 2015 between the Nigerian Army and El-Zakzaky’s movement.’’
‘’It was the tragic nadir of the more than 30 years of oppression that Zaria residents had endured at the hands of a movement that had grown accustomed to disregarding the law, disrespecting the human rights of other citizens and inconveniencing members of the public,’’ she added.
Dikko said that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into the Zaria clashes, was constituted on 29th January 2016, adding that it noted that “members of the IMN owe absolute loyalty to Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. He therefore bears responsibility for all the acts of lawlessness committed by the organization and should therefore be held responsible, fully investigated and prosecuted”.
‘’The Judicial Commission of Inquiry also recommended that the El-Zakzaky movement be outlawed, noting its disregard for the Constitution and the laws of the Nigerian state, ‘’ she said, adding that ‘’the movement has never recognised the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a sovereign nation, and owes its allegiance to another country.’’
The statement noted that Kaduna State Government accepted the findings of the Inquiry and commenced the processes for prosecuting El-Zakzaky and the leadership of his movement.
‘’ In October 2016, the state government declared El-Zakzaky’s movement an unlawful society drawing on powers vested by Section 45 (1) of the Constitution and Section 97A of the Penal Code (Cap 110, Laws of Kaduna State, 1991), she explained.
‘’After filing charges listed above, the trial suffered initial delays because the third and fourth defendants were at large. That was the case when the matter first came up in court on 15th May 2018. It was adjourned till 21st June 2018 because the charges had not been served on the third and fourth defendants. An accident involving the trial judge further delayed the hearing scheduled for 21st June 2018, the commissioner added.
‘’Subsequently, the arraignment of the first and second defendants was done on 2nd August 2018 at the Kaduna High Court following their transfer to Kaduna in May 2018 from the custody of the Federal Government. On that day, the Kaduna High Court took the pleas of the first and second defendants, Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and Mrs. Zeenah Ibrahim. The court also heard the defendants’ application for bail which was refused in a ruling made on 4th October 2018, the statement said.
The statement further said that the court ordered that the defendants be kept in prison custody and that the defendants be allowed access to their personal physicians, alongside physicians of the State.
‘’However, at his request, Mr. Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife were then kept in SSS facilities which were deemed more comfortable than the Kaduna Prison. It is this situation that Mr. El-Zakzaky and his protagonists were using to deceive the world that he was being detained, when in actual fact, he is in custody on the orders of the High Court, ‘’ Dikko clarified.