Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has described as abuse of court process, the attempt by the Kaduna State Government to hurriedly file new charge against leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), and his wife, Malam Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Zeenat El-Zakzaky respectively, to prevent their release from custody.
The duo, who were accused of the offences bordering on culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of public peace, have been detained since 2015 when members of the IMN, better known as Shi’ites, clashed with soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Their case was in court for over five years while the duo were kept in custody.
Recently, Hon. Justice Gideon Kurada, who presided over the matter, had ordered the release of the couple in a ruling, where the court upheld a no-case submission argued by the defendants’ counsel on July 28, 2021.
Soon after the order of court to release them, a director of public prosecution, Dari Bayero, notified the public that the state had filed fresh charges relating to terrorism and treasonable felony against them.
Falana, in a statement in Lagos, while reacting to the matter, said contrary to reports that the charge was filed after the court ordered the couple’s release, it had been “hurriedly filed in the federal high court holden at Kaduna on Tuesday, 26th July, in a desperate bid by the Kaduna State Government to frustrate the release of the defendants from further incarceration”.
“In other words, the new charge was maliciously filed when the Kaduna State Government anticipated that the ruling fixed for July 28 in respect our no case submission would succeed,” he said.
He said as soon as the new charge was filed, “the bailiff of the federal high court was commanded to rush to the Kaduna correctional centre to serve same on the defendants”.
But the defendants refused to accept service of the charge and directed the Bailiff to serve it on them through their Counsel. But for reasons best known to the Kaduna State Government, the charge was not served on the defence counsel.
“In apparent disregard of the epochal judgement of the Honourable Justice Gideon Kurada, the Kaduna State Government seeks to subject the defendants to trial under the Terrorism Prevention Act enacted in 2011 for offences that were committed as far back as 2008.
“But since the Kaduna State Government is not sure that the defendants would be convicted for terrorism, the Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Bayero, has announced that an appeal would be filed at the Court of Appeal against the Ruling of the Honourable Justice Gideon Kadura.”
“Since the new charge has failed to achieve its oppressive objective of frustrating the release of the couple from further incarceration, we call on the Kaduna State Government to discontinue it without any delay. “