Human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has demanded the unconditional release from unlawful detention, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheik Ibraheem el-Zakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zeenat Ibraheem.
Falana made the demand in a letter dated April 5 and addressed to the Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura.
Sheik el-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since December last year after a violent clash between members of his sect and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The lawyer said since their arrest and detention at an undisclosed location, his clients have not been allowed access to their legal counsel, family and doctors even though they have not been told that they breached any law.
Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said although his clients were not at the scene of the clash between the army and members of the IMN last December, rampaging troops invaded their residence at Wali Street, Zaria.
“The troops set the building ablaze and killed three of our clients’ children in their presence and thereby subjected them to untold mental agony.
“Thereafter, the armed soldiers shot our clients several times. As a result of the brutal attack Sheik Zakzaky lost his left eye while doctors are currently battling to save the right one.
“While in custody, both of them have gone through many surgical operations to extract bullets from their bodies”, Falana wrote.
To compound the physical pain and mental torture his clients were subjected to, the rights activist said the police and the DSS have held them incommunicado for over three months.
He also recalled that during a similar attack in 2014 allegedly by a detachment of the Army in Zaria, three of el-Zakzaky’s children were also killed without any lawful justification.
He further said the report of the fact finding Commission of Enquiry set up by the government into the attack was yet to be released, while the military personnel who allegedly killed his clients’ children and other unarmed civilians, have not been brought to justice.
Some of the victims who survived the deadly attacks, Falana noted, have been charged with culpable homicide and sundry offences by the Kaduna State Government.
“Notwithstanding that such criminal charges are pending at the Kaduna High Court, the Kaduna State Government has set up a judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate the same subject matter.
“Even though our clients have not been told that they breached any law, they have been denied access to their lawyers, personal physicians and family members for over three months.
“Our clients were only permitted to meet with us last Friday after several requests made by us had been turned without any legal basis.
“In the light of the foregoing, our clients and members of the IMN have resolved not to participate in the proceedings of the said Judicial Commission of Enquiry in any manner whatsoever and howsoever.
“Finally, we hereby demand for the immediate and unconditional release of our clients from illegal detention within 24 hours of the receipt of this letter”, Falana said.