Security beefed up in Kaduna state capital as the trial of embattled Leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El- Zakzaky resumes today.
El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat are facing an 8-count charge by the Kaduna state government over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, and disruption of the public peace, among others.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Gideon Kurada, had during the last sitting on March 26, 2019, adjourned the case indefinitely following his appointment to serve as a member of the Elections Petitions Tribunal in Yobe state.
Due to the absence of the trial judge during the last sitting on March 26, El-Zakzkay’s lawyer, Mister Femi Falana, expressed concern that his clients were in dire need of medical attention, the reason they could not appear in court.
Falana told Journalists that his clients have not been given adequate medical care since December 14, 2015, when they were detained.
Meanwhile, due to the resumed trial of Elzakzaky and his wife today, all major roads leading to the Kaduna state High Court Complex have been cordoned off by security operatives. Security is also beefed up at the court premises, to avert to the breakdown of law and order, especially with the recent violent protests by IMN members in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The residents also accused the Shiite members of carrying arms with which they use in harassing innocent people in the area and called on the state government not to allow Zakzaky and his members to come back to the area again.
According to the people of the area, the Shi’ite group, if allowed to continue to exist, could pose a security threat to the state and the whole nation.
The members visited the Emir’s Palace where the Chairman briefed him on the purpose of their visit. They also visited the residence of Sheik El-Zakzaky at Gyellesu, Hussenia, the spiritual headquarters of the movement at PZ area and later, the mass grave where the dead bodies were buried.
Channels Television’s reporter in Kaduna State reports that although the commission is yet to conclude its public hearing, fact finding visits such as this go a long way in providing more evidence and facts that will guide it in making its recommendations to government.
The judicial commission of inquiry into the December 12, 2015 violent clash between the Army and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also called the Shiites, has again been adjourned.
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 has been fixed for commencement of hearing into the incident.
Chairman of the commission, Justice Mohammed Garba, said that the Army will appear on Wednesday to state its own account of the incident that claimed several lives.
Justice Garba explained that the adjournment was as a result of an oral pleading by counsel to the Shiites movement requesting for a short time to enable them have access to the leader of the movement, Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky who is currently under detention in Abuja.
He explained that feelers he got from the counsels indicate that there were concrete plans for them to meet with El-Zakzaky on Monday at the DSS facility in Abuja in order to get a brief from him.
Justice Garba, while noting that no other adjournment would be entertained again by the commission having wasted five out of the six weeks given to it to conclude its report, announced that the Army would appear on Wednesday to give its own account of the incident.
He also said that other groups and individuals that submitted memorandum will also appear before the commission to give their own testimonies.
Counsel to the commission, Yunus Utaz, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and that of the Army, Anthony Adeniyi, did not oppose the adjournment.
The General Officer Commanding, One Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman and some other senior Army officers attended the sitting.
However, counsels to the Islamic Movement were absent as they were said to be in Abuja where they are expected to meet with Sheik El-Zakzaky at the DSS office.
The inability of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and their lawyers to have access to their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El- 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 Monday, 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 Sheik El-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 El- zakzaky difficult.
He pleaded for more time in order to enable them have access to El-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 Sheik El-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.
Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, popularly known as Shiites, have raised alarm that they are being frustrated by the DSS and Police to have access to their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
This they said has prevented them from submitting their memorandum to the Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government to investigate the bloody clash between them and the Nigerian Army in Zaria on December 12, 2015.
At the resumed sitting of the commission on Monday, counsel to the movement, Festus Okoye, told the commission that all efforts by the Shiites’ legal team or its members to have access to El-Zakzaky were unsuccessful in spite of several meetings they had with the DSS and Police authorities in Abuja.
He attributed the delay by the group to submit its memorandum to the commission to inability of the members to meet with their leader who is believed to be in custody of the Department of State Security (DSS) in the Federal Capital Territory.
On his part, counsel to the Commission, Yusuf Ali (SAN), asked the commission to order the Attorney General of Kaduna State and the Attorney General of the Federation to liaise with him to see how they can have access to El-Zakzaky and get briefings from him.
Ruling on the two submissions, the Chairman of the commission, Justice Muhammadu Garba, granted Mr Ali’s request and directed both Attorney Generals to fast track the meeting to enable the Shiite members have access to their leader.
Justice Garba subsequently adjourned the sitting till March 14.
Since the commencement of sitting on February 22, the Commission of Inquiry had adjourned sitting four times.
Although it has so far received 105 memoranda from individuals and groups, the failure of the commission to commence hearing has been attributed to the inability of the Shiites to make their submissions.
The proceedings in the second day sitting of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry investigating the December 12, 2015 violent clash between the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army, has been stalled.
The proceeding was stalled as a results of the inability of the counsel to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria to get access to the leader of the movement, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
During the resumed sitting on Wednesday, Counsel to the Shiites, Maxwell Kyon, who appeared before the Commission, pleaded for two weeks adjournment to enable him get access to his client, who is currently in the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS).
While the counsel to the Nigerian Army, Abba Audu, did not oppose the appeal.
Lawyer to the Commission, Yunus Ustaz (SAN), objected to the prayer, stating that the two weeks request is too long taking into cognizance that the Commission has a limited time to conclude its sitting.
In his ruling, Chairman of the Commission, Justice Mohammed Garba, refused to grant the request for a two weeks adjournment on the grounds that the Commission has only six weeks to conclude its assignment and submit its report to the Kaduna State Government.
He, however, granted the Shiites’ counsel five days to get access to his client within which to report back to the Commission on whether or not he has had access to his client.
He, therefore, adjourned sitting till Monday, February 29, 2016.
Reacting to the ruling, Counsel to the Shiites, noted that the group may likely file their own memorandum to the Commission as soon as they have access to their leader, who has been in detention since December 2015.
Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Monday shunned the inaugural sitting of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the December 12, 2015, violent clash between the group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.
At the commencement of the public sitting at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House in the State capital, venue of the public hearing, as early as 9 O’clock in the morning and waited for about an hour without seeing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. They did not send any representative or apology.
Members of the commission arrived at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House, venue of the public hearing as early as 9 O’clock in the morning and waited for about an hour without seeing members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria or their lawyers.
Their absence may be unconnected with their demand for the release of their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and over 700 of their members, who were taken into custody by security operatives days after the incident.
But the Nigerian Army was represented at the sitting by the General Officer Commanding One division, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade.
The absence of the Shiite members compelled the commission to adjourn till Wednesday, February 4 in expectation that counsel to the commission, Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, would ascertain the whereabouts of Sheik El-Zakzaky and report back to the commission by the next sitting.
Some lawyers representing various interests at the panel asked the commission to ensure that all parties involved in the matter were adequately represented in order to give each of them a fair hearing, but the commission’s chairman, Justice Mohammed Garba, insisted that they had notified all parties involved about the sitting and therefore, does not have the powers to give an open invitation to any individual or group.
The commission’s chairman also announced that a total of 105 memoranda had been received from members of the public.
He reassured the sitting that the commission would conduct an unbiased investigation and recommend necessary action that would be fair to all parties involved.
Mr Garba also asked the Nigerian Army to ensure it was represented during all the sittings of the commission.
The commission, which has 13 terms of reference, will inquire into the immediate and remote causes of the clashes, and thereafter make recommendations to the state government.