Lack Of Access To Sheikh Zakzaky Stalls Enquiry
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
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
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
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
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
“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
“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
“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.”