Abuja—The Presidency said yesterday that Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, and former National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) were still being kept by government in the public interest.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this while reacting to questions on the human rights’ record of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in Abuja.
While he said Zakzaky was being kept for his personal safety, he said Dasuki was being held because he had other criminal cases to answer.
He said: “On the issue of El-Zakzaky, the information we have is that he is being kept more for his own safety than the offences he committed.
“If you set him free today, what do you think will likely be the reactions out there on the streets of Kaduna or in Zazzau where he comes from.”
Shehu, alongside other presidential media aides, Mr Femi Adesina and Mr Laolu Akande, addressed State House correspondents on the achievements of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government at a midterm media chat.
The media chat was part of activities to make two years of the Buhari-led administration.
According to Shehu, the ‘detention’ of the Shi’ite leader is also in his (El-Zakzaky) own interest, saying it is duty bound on government to ensure the safety of all its citizens.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of an Abuja Federal High Court, in his judgment in December 2016, ordered the Department of State Service (DSS) to release El-Zakzaky within 45 days.
Kolawole also ordered the Federal Government to provide an accommodation for El-Zakzaky, his wife and family members within Kaduna State or any part of the northern region.
The court declared the continuous detention of El-Zakzaky since December 13, 2015 as unlawful and illegal since the issue of protective custody was unknown to law or the National Security Agencies Act establishing the DSS.
However, the presidential spokesman said El-Zakzaky could not be released as government was putting public and security interest dimensions into consideration.
On the continued detention of former National Security Adviser, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, the presidential aide said Dasuki was being held because he had other criminal cases to answer.
He, therefore, maintained that Dasuki’s release might affect the ongoing investigation of cases against him.
“It is a common thing in all nations of the world that there are matters of public safety.
“The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, I think, has made his points here in the State House, against individuals’ interest. And in all cases, public good should override individual interest,’’ he said.