Shiites shun probe panel’s inaugural sitting, demand leader’s release
• Commission adjourns
• Protests rock northern states over El-Zakzaky’s detention
AS the judicial commission of inquiry investigating the clash between soldiers and Shiites begins public hearing yesterday, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria shunned the probe panel, insisting on the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
But personnel of the army were at the State House, venue of the sitting to give their account of the bloody clash in December 2015.
The team of lawyers representing the Movement were also not present at yesterday’s sitting of the panel. But sources told journalists that they have written to the commission of their inability to submit memorandum because of lack of access to the leader of the group, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky whose directive they needed to obey and work with.
Some members of the Islamic group who also spoke with journalists in an interview said that, “We are not saying that we will not give our own side of the story, but let them release our leader who the government has kept in detention since December.
“Justice demands that he should lead us in giving evidence at the commission of inquiry. Until he is released we will not appear at the sitting.”
Addressing the panel, Chairman of the commission, Justice Muhammadu Lawal Garba, said, “this sitting has to be adjourned till Wednesday because of the absence of one party involved in the inquiry. Counsel to the commission, Yusuf Ali (SAN) has been asked to find out the whereabouts of the leader of the Shiites and report back.”
Meanwhile, peaceful protests were held in major cities across northern Nigeria on Sunday. The protesters who thronged the major streets were demanding the release of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, who is being detained by the Federal Government since December, 2015.
Reports from Potiskum, the commercial city of Yobe State, said the protesters were on major streets of the town demanding the release of Zakzaky.
In Kano, Sokoto and Gombe, the protesters went round major streets of the city chanting the slogan ‘Free Zakzaky’ in English and Hausa languages and condemning the action of the Nigerian Army on members of the Islamic Movement in Zaria.
Kaduna, Zaria, Bauchi, Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa, Yola, Adamawa and Daura, the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari all witnessed thousands of people marching peacefully through the streets asking for Zakzaky’s release.