The Department of State Services, DSS, yesterday released leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, following the order of Kaduna High Court.
The court had ruled that the cleric and his wife be allowed to travel to India for medical attention.
Public Relations Officer of DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, confirmed the released in brief statement in Abuja, last night. El-Zakzaky and his wife who were not in court, have been in detention since 2015, following a bloody clash between members of IMN and the military that left scores of his members dead.
Protests organised by his members to pressure government to release him recently turned bloody, with scores of his members as well as senior police office and a reporter with Channels Television killed. Government obtained a court order, which designated the IMN as a terrorist organisation and banned its operations.
At the resumed hearing of the bail application filed by El-Zakzaky’s counsel, Femi Falana, in Kaduna, yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Dairus Khobo, granted the defence counsel’s request for the defendants to proceed to India to seek medical attention. The court also ruled that El-Zakzaky and his wife be accompanied on the trip by DSS personnel and officials of the state.
As with all precious arraignments, area close to where the high court is situated was cordoned off, with police personnel and those of civil defence corps taking strategic positions, while traffic was diverted on some routes. Only lawyers were allowed into the court premises.
State counsel reacts
Addressing journalists outside the court perimeter gate, the lead prosecution counsel, who is the state Director of Public Prosecution, Dari Bayero, said the judge was satisfied with the medical certificate tendered by El-Zakzaky and has granted him permission to travel to India to seek medical attention. He said: “The court granted the defendant permission to seek medical attention under the strict supervision of the prosecution (state).
‘’The judge said from the medical reports filed by Mallam (El Zakzaky), he is, indeed, in dire need of medical attention. It’s not necessarily bail but he has been granted leave to travel for medical attention. ‘’The court said when he is discharged by the hospital, he will come back and continue his trial. So, as soon as he is discharged from the hospital, he comes back to the country and continue his trial. The court heard the arguments of the counsel and has ruled.
Bayero added that by the ruling of the court, the defendant will go to the hospital in India where he specifically pleaded in his argument and no other country. The prosecution counsel said his team would study the judgement before taking the next decision on whether to appeal the judgement.
It wasn’t a bail- El-Zakzaky’s counsel
Also speaking with journalists, counsel to El-Zakzaky, Marshal Abubakar, said what the court did was not to grant bail to the defendant but to rule that he should proceed to India to save his life. He said: “It was not a bail application. It was an application to save the life of the applicants, El-Zakzaky and his wife.
The ruling came up today (yesterday) and the judge, Justice Darius, graciously agreed with Mr Femi Falana, SAN, and the various medical reports that were attached to the applications. ‘’There were eight medical reports that clearly showed the applicants were in dire need of medical treatment abroad. The court agreed that they should be allowed immediate treatment that they sought, with supervision.”
It’s victory for truth, justice against tyranny, impunity —IMN
Meanwhile, Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has described the ruling of the court a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity. In a statement signed by the Chairman, Free El-Zakzaky Campaign Committee, Abdurrahman Yola, the group said the ruling by the court represented “victory for our dogged determination, patience, and perseverance in the face of extreme persecution.”
The statement read in part: ‘’With this recent ruling by the court today (yesterday), we will finalise urgent plans to transfer them to a more appropriate foreign health facility for further expert management as we await the response of the Nigerian government. ‘’We expect them to act urgently to respect the Nigerian constitution and the ruling of this honourable court to grant the duo instant permit to travel for their treatment.
“As a peaceful movement, we have kept to our clean tradition of keeping faith with due process in seeking redress through peaceful means without any resort to violence, despite deliberate and persistent provocations by the government.”
“We wish to use this opportunity to also say a big thank you to all people of conscience, particularly some very senior citizens, diplomats, human rights activists and organizations, journalists and the general public who doggedly stood by us in the campaign for justice for the victims of Zaria genocide.”