A human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has asked the federal government to release Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN.
In a letter dated January 2 and addressed to the attorney-general of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, Falana said the request is to test the truth of President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to respect the rule of law during his New Year address.
El-Zakzaky remains in the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS) though he has been granted bail on many occasions by courts of competent jurisdiction.
“In view of the recent decision of the federal government to comply with all court orders we have the instructions of our clients to request you to ensure compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the federal high court and Kaduna state high court concerning them which are set out hereunder,” Falana wrote.
He further reminded the AGF that the federal high court presided over by the Honourable Justice G.O. Kolawole (now of the Court of Appeal) had on December 2, 2016, declared illegal and unconstitutional the arrest and detention of El-Zakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeinat El-Zakzaky, by armed soldiers.
“Consequently, the Court awarded them N50 million damages for their illegal detention, ordered the state security service to release them from custody forthwith and provide them with a house since the Nigerian Army had burnt down and demolished their house in Zaria, Kaduna state.
“Without any legal basis whatsoever, the federal government refused to comply with the aforesaid court orders. Curiously, the contemptuous acts of the federal government were publicly defended by your good self and some other high ranking officials of the Buhari administration.”
He further expressed his shock at the AGF’s claim that the Kaduna state government is the one to comply with the release order.
“With respect, your position has failed to take cognisance of the fact that your office, the Presidency, and the state security service had, up till last month, repeatedly given contradictory reasons to justify the disobedience of the aforesaid court orders for the release of our clients.
“In view of the foregoing, we urge you to use your good offices to review your position and ensure the immediate and unconditional compliance with the valid and subsisting orders of the federal high court and the Kaduna State High Court concerning our clients. This request is in line with the new policy of the Buhari administration to operate under the Rule of Law.”