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Meets Media Opinion: Buhari should charge Shiite El-Zakzaky to court or set him free

Buhari should set Shiite leader El-Zakzaky free without further delays

Shiite leader El-Zakzaky has been kept in prison without charge since 2015. The Buhari led federal government should charge him to court or let him walk.

On April 16 and 17, 2018, Shiite protesters took to the streets of Abuja and confronted the police with stones, cudgels, sticks and knives. The violent protesters were demanding the release of their spiritual leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.

El-zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenat Ibrahim were arrested in December of 2015 following an altercation between members of the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN or Shiite) in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Hundreds of Zakzaky's followers were reportedly killed after they mounted roadblocks that impeded the convoy in which Nigeria's Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai was travelling.

 

More than 350 IMN followers were reportedly killed in the 2015 clashes. Zakzaky was shot and injured; leaving him partly paralysed and blind in one eye.

Zakzaky’s temples and homes were razed to the ground by angry soldiers afterwards.

Zakzaky has been remanded in prison since 2015 without charge.

Court orders Zakzaky's release

On December 2, 2016, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the federal high court, Abuja, ordered that Zakzaky and his wife be set free.

In January of 2017, the same court ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Director of the Department of State Security Service (DSS), Lawal Daura, to set El Zakzaky free or risk jail terms themselves.

It is April of 2018 and Zakzaky is still behind bars. Yet in a democracy, the courts should be respected as the temples of justice or the last hope of the common man.

 

The federal government mocks democracy and its tenets when it flouts or continues to disobey court orders with reckless abandon.

The argument that setting Zakzaky free will reinvigorate his followers into causing more public unrest in Zaria and elsewhere is tenuous at best, because there are other ways to check the activities of a religious sect that is running amok, without having to jail its leader.

Yet this doesn’t excuse the Shiites taking laws into their hands and storming Abuja to throw stones at everyone. Their recourse to violence stands condemned. It was as barbaric a course of action as it was silly. The right to freedom of worship isn't absolute in any society. The tradition of the Shiites to obstruct vehicular movement when on religious processions doesn't belong in a modern society.

 

However, the Buhari led federal government and the prosecuting authorities should set El-Zakzaky and his wife free without further delays or have them charged before a court of competent jurisdiction for alleged incitement and subversion.

No one, not even the federal government, should be above the law in a democratic dispensation.

Bob Alash Photo

Bob Alash is a Chief Editor at Meets Media, a digital journalist who reports on News and some other section of our website.

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