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Group knocks Kaduna State government for trying IMN members 

By Silver Nwokoro
03 August 2021   |   2:58 am
Access to Justice (A2J) has described as a “treacherous travesty of justice” the threat to file fresh charges against the released leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria

Shiite cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky is seen in Kano on July 28, 2021 upon his release. – A Nigerian court on Wednesday acquitted and released Shiite cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky, who had been detained for murder with his wife since 2015, one of his lawyers said. (Photo by – / AFP)

Access to Justice (A2J) has described as a “treacherous travesty of justice” the threat to file fresh charges against the released leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat Ibraheem by the Kaduna State government while ignoring the call to prosecute indicted soldiers, who allegedly killed IMN members.
El-Zakzaky and his wife were discharged and acquitted by Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna State High Court, after a four-year trial for homicide and other related charges.

The court held that the State had not proved its case against the defendants.

The Kaduna State government has indicated that it will appeal both the judgment and file fresh charges against El Zakzaky, for offences, which the State said were committed prior to 2015.

The body stated that the Kaduna State government chose to pursue an egregious, “apartheid-like” pattern of selective justice on the matter.

“It arraigned hundreds of IMN members for the murder of one soldier, but no soldier has been prosecuted for the murder of at least 348 members of IMN. Not one,” the group exclaimed.

A2J alleged that the Kaduna State government has abused and corrupted the criminal justice process of the State by using it to perpetuate a toxic form of unconstitutional bias and discrimination, elevating one life above those of at least 348 other lives.    
Their words: “The Kaduna government has unconstitutionally denied the equal protection of the law to all Kaduna people alike, by determining whose life is worthy of protection in the State, and whose is not.

“The lives of hundreds of IMN members who were brutally murdered by Nigerian soldiers are worth accounting for, the same way the life of that lone soldier is worth accounting for. By prosecuting only members of the Shiite movement for the death of one soldier and remaining taciturn over the countervailing claims of justice for the deaths of hundreds of IMN members, the Kaduna State government shows it is misusing the criminal justice system for ulterior motives. 

“What the military did to IMN members arguably constitutes genocide, and the International Criminal Court is currently looking into this. Yet the Kaduna State government shuts its eyes to the atrocities of the military and focused its energies on targeting the victims of the military’s atrocious bombardment. 
“The Kaduna State government says it will further prosecute El Zakzaky for other offences arising before the 2015 clashes. This is further confirmation of the government’s illicit use of the criminal justice process for politically partisan ends, and it is unfortunate that this is occurring under a democratic system. The Kaduna State government must stop this disgraceful abuse of legal processes and institutions.”

The group, therefore, called on the Kaduna State government to turn its attention to the prosecution of all the military officers indicted by the Justice Garba Panel report now.
The body said if the government fails to do this, it would remain an enabler of the culture of impunity, and of war crimes.

They added that the government would also have strengthened the hands of those whose desire is to live above the rule of law, and not under it.

A2J further urged the state to walk away from the path of political persecution of IMN members and leadership, and begin a constructive dialogue with the group and the Kaduna people on ways to forge a new future and repair badly fractured relationships.

This, they said, would help to heal the bitter wounds of the past and bring about a better measure of peace in the State.