John Shiklam in Kaduna
A Kaduna State High Court presided over by Justice Gideon Kurada has fixed April 23 and 24, 2020 for the trial of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat.
The duo, who have been in detention since December 2015, following clashes between his followers and the Nigerian Army, are being prosecuted by the Kaduna State government for alleged culpable homicide among others.
The matter came up on Monday before the court, however a counsel to the Islamic cleric, Marshal Abubakar, told the court that the couple, who in custody at the Kaduna Correctional Centre, were declined medical attention.
Abubakar told journalists in an interview after the court session that following the development, the trial judge stood down proceedings for two hours and summoned the Controller of the Kaduna Correctional Centre to appear before the court.
Abubakar said his clients were again being frustrated by the state by not allowing the defendants access to their medical doctors as ordered by the court.
He said: “The matter was billed for today (Monday) for trial. Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Mallama Zeenat Ibraheem, were supposed to take their plea today and charges filed by the state against the couple over the incidents that occurred on Tue 12th and 13th December, 2015.
“As at the last dates, the state had informed the court that they intend to call their witnesses today, but unfortunately, the trial was stalled by the state once again.”
He said further that on the last adjoined date, February 6, 2020, “the court had ordered that the defendants should be allowed access to medical care to be provided by their (defendants) medical practitioners in conjunction with the medical doctors nominated by the state Ministry of Justice and the prisons authorities, but unfortunately, it was brought to the court’s attention that that order was frustrated by the state — the Kaduna State government — and the prisons authorities who had refused to allow doctors of El-Zakzaky and his wife access to them for medical examination”.
Also speaking to journalists, the leading prosecution counsel, who is the Kaduna State Director of Public Prosecution, Dari Bayero, said that all grey areas had been resolved as the court had ordered that the couple be allowed access to their medical doctors.
“There were some issues that arose in court. But all grey areas have been sorted out and the judge had given order that the personal physicians to the defendants be allowed access to them.
“Even if they want to go for scanning in any hospital, the Correctional Centre should provide security for them to be taken anywhere” he said.
He said the matter was adjourned to April 23 and 24, 2020 to ensure that all the issues raised would have been addressed for the trial to commence.
He said the Controller of the Kaduna Correctional Facility was summoned to court and all the issues relating to access to medical care had been ironed out.
There was tight security as all roads leading to the vicinity of court were barricaded by armed security operatives and motorists had to take alternative roots amidst heavy gridlock.
As usual, journalists were not allowed into the court premises and had to wait for interviews with the counsel of both parties.