Release El-Zakzaky within 45 days, court tells FG
• Awards N50M Damages To Cleric
• Says FG Should Build New Accommodation For Him
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered an unconditional release of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Malami Zeenat, within 45 days from yesterday.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole also awarded N50 million as damages to El-Zakzaky and urged the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to build a new accommodation for El-Zakzaky’s family in any part of Kaduna State or the northern region.
In his ruling, the Judge described as unconstitutional, the counter-affidavit by the federal government, wherein it claimed that El-Zakzaky and his wife were being held in protective custody.
He maintained that government acted in gross violation of the constitution by keeping the applicants in “protective custody” since December 14, last year till date.
Justice Kolawole, whose ruling was on fundamental human rights suits filed by El-Zakzaky and his wife, specifically ordered the AGF to provide El-Zakzaky, whose house was demolished by soldiers last year, with a befitting accommodation within 45 days in any place of his choice in Kaduna State.
The court further ordered the Department of State Security (DSS), which has held the plaintiffs in its custody since last year, to release them to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), who would convey them to their new home and provide them with 24-hour protective security, seven days of the week, since they had claimed earlier in their counter-affidavit that he needed security.
Justice Kolawole stated that the federal government’s claim that El-Zakzaky and wife were being held in protective custody has no place in law and is, therefore, illegal and unconstitutional, adding: “I am unable to accept the view that the applicants were being detained with their consent.”
Justice Kolawole further stated that N5 million spent on El-Zakzaky’s treatment by the DSS was in fulfillment of government’s constitutional obligation to its citizen.
According to him, the DSS has no legal right to keep El-Zakzaky and wife in its custody for almost one year without charge and claimed that they were kept for protection without any evidence to show that their lives were in danger.
The Judge also stated that the DSS could not hide under Section 35 (1) of the constitution to detain the applicants, because they were not mentally disturbed.
He decried the unwillingness of the federal government to settle the matter amicably out of court after he had created the opportunity for such settlement.
He also held that the federal government was taking dangerous risk by keeping El-Zakzaky in custody, as according to him, should he die in custody, the country would likely experience a crisis similar to the death of former leader of the Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf.
He, therefore, urged members of the Sunni sect, who are the majority in the country, to be tolerant of the Shiite group and live in peace with them, “because the constitution accommodates all beliefs.”