Court to FG: Detention of El Zakzaky Capable of Breeding Another Boko Haram

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 .Orders his release within 45 days
.Awards N50m damages to detainee, wife
 
By Alex Enumah in Abuja


A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday ordered the unconditional release of detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky within 45 days from today. 
The court also awarded N25 million damages each, in favour of Zakzaky and his wife.

Trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole in a judgement delivered on fundamental suit brought against the federal government by the applicants over their illegal detention since December 2015, also ordered the FG to build a decent accommodation that the applicant and his family would settle into after their release.
 
The accommodation should be anywhere in Kaduna or within the North where the IMN has its abode, ruled the court.
Kolawole in the jugdement, held that the government acted in gross violation of the Constitution by keeping the applicants in “protective custody” since December 14, 2015 to date.  

The judge who stated that there was no known law that allows a person to be held in protective custody.
 
Kolawole also ordered the Department of the State Security Service (DSS) who is in custody of El-Zakzaky and his wife Zenatudden, to release them to the Inspector General of Police, who would convey them to their new home and provide them with protective security until the alleged threat over their lives is over.
 
On the claim by FG that the applicant was being well-catered for and that the government had so far incurred the sum N5 million as medical bills of the applicant, the judge, held that the N5 million spent on El-Zakzaky’s treatment by the DSS was in fulfillment of government constitutional obligation to her citizen.

The judge while dismissing the claim by FG that the applicant was being kept for his own good, stated that the government failed to provide evidence to show that their lives was in danger or prior to the events of 12 and 14 December, there was any complain from neighbors of the applicant that he was constituting a public nuisance.
Also, he stated that DSS could not hide under section 35 (1) of the Constitution to detain the applicants because they were not mentally disturbed, adding that even if it were so, the DSS was not the appropriate place for such cases.

Justice Kolawole, who regretted the failure of parties to find a political situation to the matter, warned that the case if not properly managed, would further harm the battered image of the country in the international community.
 
He also warned that the government was running a greater risk in keeping the applicant in custody against his will, adding that if anything should happen to the applicant in detention, the effect would be catastrophic, just like the result of the death of late leader of the Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf.
 
He urged the parties to find amicable settlement of the matter as he noted that the court was ill-equipped to settle the matter, since it borders on religion and the Islamic faith.

The Shiite leader and his wife had been in custody since 14 December, 2015 following violent clashes between adherents of IMN and the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai, in which hundreds of the adherents of the group were killed, including his wife and son.
Also, the home of El-Zakzaky was also destroyed by the military during the clashes.

Following his alleged illegal detention, the Shi’ite leader, applied for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to life, personal liberty, dignity of human person, right to private and family life and private property.
He also, filed a N2 billion suit against the federal government over his unlawful detention and breach of his fundamental human right.

Among the respondents are, the Attorney General of the Federation AGF, Department of State Services, DSS, and the Nigerian Police Force.
 
But, the government however denied claim of unlawful detention of the leader of Zakzaky, claiming that he was a vulnerable person and as such, being held under protective custody.