Falana Gives Army 24-hour Ultimatum to Release Shiite Leader, Wife

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Akinwale Akintunde
The Nigerian Army has been given a 24-hour ultimatum to release the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky, and his wife, Hajia Zeenat Ibraheem, from detention unconditionally.

The Lagos-based senior advocate and human right activist, Mr. Femi Falana, gave the ultimatum in a letter he addressed to the Director General of Department of State Services (DSS).

Falana said during a meeting with Zakzaky and his wife in Abuja on March 31, 2016, where he was briefed that on December 12, 2015, thousands of armed soldiers unleashed violent attacks on the members of IMN in Zaria, Kaduna State on the orders of the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, who claimed that the unarmed civilians wanted to assassinate him.
He stated that from December 12 to 14, 2015, the armed soldiers killed more people and engaged in the willful destruction of properties of members of the group.

According to him, although Zakzaky and his wife were not at the scene of the attack, the rampaging troops invaded their residence on December 14, 2016 and the troops set the building ablaze and killed three of their children in their very presence, thereby subjected them to untold mental agony.

Falana also condemned the fact that Zakzaky and his wife have been denied access to their lawyers, personal physicians and family members for over three months even though they have not been told that they breached any law.

“Our clients were only permitted to meet with us last Friday after several requests made by us had been turned down without any legal basis,” he stated.
The senior advocate in his letter further stated: “The murders and vandals were later joined by officials of the Kaduna State Government who demolished the vandalised buildings with bulldozers.

“Thereafter, the armed soldiers shot our clients several times. As a result of the brutal attack Sheik Zakzaky lost his left eye while doctors are currently battling to save the right one. While in custody both of them have gone through many surgical operations to extract bullets from their bodies.

“To compound the physical pain and mental anguish that our clients were subjected to in the circumstance, the Nigeria Police Force and DSS have held them incommunicado for the past three and half months.

Falana also accused the army of a similar attack in 2014 where three of his clients’ children were killed without any lawful justification.
He said the report of the fact finding Commission of Enquiry set up by the government in respect of that attack did not see the light of the day.

“Whereas the military personnel who killed our clients’ children and other unarmed civilians have not been brought to justice some of the victims who survived the deadly attacks have been dragged to court and charged with culpable homicide and sundry offences by the Kaduna State Government.

“Notwithstanding that such criminal charges are pending at the Kaduna High Court, the Kaduna State Government has set up a judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate the same subject matter.

“In the light of the foregoing, our clients and members of the IMN have resolved not to participate in the proceedings of the said Judicial Commission of Enquiry in any manner whatsoever and however,” the letter stated.