By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Friday, ordered the unconditional release of detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as the Shi’ite sect, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Malami Zeenat, within 45 days.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole made the order while delivering judgment on a fundamental right enforcement suit El-Zakzaky filed against the Federal Government.
The court held that the continued detention of the applicant without trial amounted to a gross violation of his constitutionally guaranteed rights.
It went ahead and awarded N50m damages against the Federal Government, even as it ordered the construction of a new accommodation for El-Zakzaky’s family in any part of Kaduna State or the Northern region.
The court dismissed FG’s position that the applicant and his wife were under “protective custody”.
Specifically, the Shi’ite leader who has been in detention since December 14, 2015, applied for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to life, personal liberty, dignity of human person, right to private and family life and private property.
His arrest and detention followed a bloody clash between members of the sect and soldiers attached to the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai, at Zaria, Kaduna State.
The suit marked FHC/CS/128/2016, was predicated on sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41 and 46 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as on Articles 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, LFN, 2010.
The court was among other things, prayed to declare that “the detention of the applicant at Abuja by the respondents since December 14, 2015, is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates his fundamental rights to personal liberty as enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
More details soon.