Femi Falana (SAN) has made a fresh request for the release of Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and his wife, Zainab.
His request was contained in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari dated November 7 and titled: ‘Fresh request for the release of Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Hajia Zainab El-Zakzaky.’
Falana stated that El-Zakzaky, who already lost his left eye, is again on the verge of losing the right eye adding that the case of the wife is far worse than that of her husband.
“Sheik El-Zakzaky already lost his left eye and he is on the verge of losing the right eye sequel to the brutal treatment meted out to him by the armed soldiers,” he wrote.
He alleged that the State Security Service (SSS) denied him foreign medical treatment recommended by the local specialists, who had attended to him.
He added that even the alternative arrangement put in place by the family of the Sheik to bring eye specialists from abroad to treat him in custody has equally been rejected without any legal justification.
“It may interest Your Excellency to know that the medical condition of Mrs. Zainab El-Zakzaky is by far worse than that of her husband,” he continued.
“For reasons best known to the State Security Service, some of the bullets lodged in her body during the brutal attack of December 14, 2015 have not been extracted up till now.
“In the circumstances, she has been subjected to excruciating pain and agony on a daily basis. Her life which is currently in danger may be saved and prolonged if she is allowed to receive adequate medical attention without any further delay.”
Falana said he was moved to urge the President to consider ordering the release of the couple on health grounds since the Federal Government is not prepared to direct the SSS to comply with the orders of the Federal High Court.
“The Judicial Commission of Enquiry, which was set up by the Kaduna State government to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the violent attack unleashed on the Shiites in December 2015 did not recommend the indefinite incarceration or prosecution of Sheik El-Zakzaky and his wife for any criminal offence whatsoever.
“Therefore, they should be allowed to regain their fundamental right to personal liberty guaranteed by Section 35 of the Constitution and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“The Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, on December 2, 2016, ordered the release of Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Hajia Zainab El-Zakzaky from the illegal custody of the State Security Service.
“The court also awarded them reparation of N50 million and directed the Federal Government to provide a temporary accommodation for the couple since it was established that the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna state government had burnt and demolished their private residence located at Zaria in Kaduna State.
“In your Excellency’s New Year message of January 1, 2017, you urge the members of the Shia Community to embrace peace and obey the laws of the land. At the same time Your Excellency directed all law enforcement agencies in the country ‘to treat them humanely and according to the rule of law’.
“But in utter contempt of the aforesaid orders of the Federal High Court and in total disregard of Your Excellency’s directive, the State Security Service has refused to release the couple from illegal custody. Thus, the dangerous impression has been created by the State Security Service that the Federal Government does not operate under the Rule of Law.
“Having been illegally detained without trial by the defunct Babangida junta and having recently travelled to the United Kingdom for medical treatment, we have no doubt that Your Excellency will appreciate the plight of our clients.
“As the Federal Government is required to be humane and refrain from subjecting citizens to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment, we urge Your Excellency to terminate forthwith the physical and mental agony that has been inflicted on our clients by releasing them from illegal custody and allowing them to travel abroad for urgent medical attention.”