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El-Zakzaky: Group hails judgement, berates Kaduna govt for filing fresh charges

Ayodele Olalere

Access to Justice, A2J, has hailed the judgement of the Kaduna State High Court discharging and acquitting the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El- Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat Ibrahim, after a four-year trial for homicide and other related charges.

According to the court, the State had not proved its case against the defendants.

However, shortly after the verdict, the Kaduna State government filed fresh charges against El Zakzaki, for offences which the state said were committed prior to 2015.

In a statement by the group signed by it’s Convener, Joseph Otteh, stated that the new charges by Kaduna State government was among the reasons El-Zakzaky and his wife were detained for four years without trial. The group wondered why the state government was attempting to repeat the charges of which the defendants were freed of.

“The prosecution of El-Zakzakyand his wife followed years of their detention without trial by the federal government, even in flagrant disobedience of court orders to release him. His detention was also based on clashes between his group , the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), and the military in 2015.

Those clashes, tragically amplified by the military’s revenge mission to IMN headquarters and subsequent massacre of IMN’s members during the attack, led to the deaths of, using IMN’s estimates, of nearly a thousand of its members. A Judicial Panel of Inquiry which the Kaduna State government set up following the clashes, reported that it could ascertain that 347 members of IMN were killed as well as one soldier.

Unfortunately, the Kaduna State government, chose to pursue a starkly audacious form of selective justice surrounding those killings. It arraigned hundreds of IMN members for the murder of one soldier but no soldier has been prosecuted for the murder of 347 members of the Shiite group. Not one!!!” the statement stated.

It added: ” With the acquittal of El-Zakzaky and his wife, Access to Justice urges the Kaduna State government to rise above its terrible and tragic mistakes of the past and now bring to justice all those who caused the horrendous deaths of hundreds of IMN members. If the government fails to do this, it will remain an enabler of the culture of impunity, and of war crimes. “