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Lack Of Access To Sheikh Zakzaky Stalls Enquiry

By Stephen Lawan
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The inability of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and their lawyers to have access to their leader, Sheik Ibrahim Zakzaky, detained by the Department for State Security Service, has again stalled the proceedings of the Commission of Enquiry.

The commission is investigating the December 12 clash between the

group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.

At its resumed sitting on yesterday, Counsel to the commission, Yunusa

Ustaz, said that all attempts made so far by him and counsels to the

movement through the offices of the Attorney General of the Federal

and that of Kaduna State to meet with Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky where he

is being detained in Abuja were unsuccessful.
Mr Ustaz said the tight schedule of the Attorney General of the

Federation made the desired meeting with Sheikh Zakzaky difficult.

He pleaded for more time in order to enable them have access to Sheikh

Ibrahim Zakzaky before the next adjourned date.
However, counsel to the Shiites, raised concerns over the busy

schedule of the Attorney General of the Federation, saying he could

easily assign such responsibilities to another top official in the

ministry of justice.
Since the commission commenced sitting on February 22, members of the

Islamic Movement have refused to submit their memorandum to the

commission on the ground that they must be allowed to see their leader

before they would do so.
In order to give all parties fair hearing, the chairman of the

commission, Justice Mohammed Garba, had during the last sitting

mandated both the Attorney General of the Federation and that of

Kaduna State to facilitate the access to Sheikh Zazaky with his

lawyers and some of his members.
Before ruling on the submissions made by both Mr Ustaz and the counsel

to Shiites, Maxwell Kyon, members of the commission held a closed-door

meeting for over two hours to enable them reach a decision on the

submissions made by both counsels.
While the meeting lasted, the General Officer Commanding One Division,

Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, who is representing the Nigerian Army

along with some senior officers, and journalists waited patiently.

At the end of the closed door meeting, Justice Garba in his ruling

granted the request by counsel to the commission for more time to

enable them have access to leader of the Shiites.
He, however, adjourned sitting till Monday, March 21, for hearing

where the army and other interested parties are expected to make their

presentations.
The commission has so far spent four out of the six weeks given to it

by the Kaduna State government to complete its assignment.

It is hoped that by the next adjourned date, the Islamic Movement in

Nigeria would have met with their leader to enable them file their

submissions.
In a nine paragraph press release signed by the President of the Media

Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria Ibrahim Musa the movement

reiterated that the sheikh zakzaky must be granted access to his

lawyers
The statement reads “Today the judicial commission of inquiry on the

gruesome killings perpetrated by the Nigerian army in Zaria, sitting

in Kaduna has for the fifth time adjourned its sittings to next week

Monday being the 21st day of March 2016, promising to go ahead with

proceedings,”
The statement said “even if the Leader of the Islamic Movement in

Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is not granted access to his lawyers.

The Commission also directed the Lawyers to the Islamic Movement in

Nigeria who were present in the sitting to prepare a written memo

before then and file in the Commissions registry”.

“We find this directive perplexing and contrary to the directive of

the Commission at the last sitting on the 7th day of March 2016. What

will our Lawyers submit to the Commission if our leader is denied his

fundamental human right of access to his lawyers for proper and

professional briefing?” the statement questioned

“We wish to remind the Commission that Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky was

attacked in his house for two days, wherein his 3 children were

murdered in cold blood, his wife shot, he himself wounded by bullets

in six different places, his senior sister roasted alive including

some women, hundreds of his followers killed by gunshots, his house

demolished with the rubble cleared, his Islamic centre bulldozed and

cleared also, and his mothers grave desecrated along with that of his

children. If the public is not allowed to hear his own side of the

story, whose story will do justice to the terms of reference, given to

the Commission?”
“We find it strange that the Commission that is aware that the

Nigerian Military and the Department of State Services (DSS) are

holding the leader, spokesperson and custodian of the properties of

the Movement hostage will go ahead to issue such an order. We thought

that the Commission will insist that the security agencies should obey

its order and grant access to the lawyers of the Movement to see him.

What impact will the Commission make if its orders are not obeyed by

the security services? We are of the view that the Commission must

establish its independence by enforcing its order and directive rather

than threatening to go ahead with its supposed assignment when the

leader of one of the parties and his wife are held in solitary

confinement.”
“Whosoever advised the Commission to continue with its proceeding does

not wish the Commission well, because whatever it will eventually

submit to those that set it up will lack credibility in the eyes of

well meaning Nigerians and the world in general if it cannot secure

access to one of the parties in the conflict.”

“While we will be glad if the legal rights of our leader are restored,

we still reiterate our earlier demand that we will not work with the

Commission of Inquiry unless he is released after more than ninety

days incarceration.”
“We therefore advise the Commission not to engage in a fruitless

exercise if it cannot secure access to the leader of the Islamic

Movement in Nigeria. The Nigerian people should note that the leader

of the Movement and the wife are held in solitary confinement and have

not been charged with any offence since they were mortally wounded on

the 12th and 13th of December 2016.”
“We urge all well meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to

release the leader of our Movement to enable him tell the Nigerian

people and the world the atrocities committed by the Nigerian

military. Our leader is being held in solitary confinement because

those that committed genocide against the members of the Movement do

not want the world to hear and witness what they did.”