Femi Falana, lawyer to Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, detained leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), has, again, demanded that the Muslim cleric and his wife be released from detention by the Department of State Security (DSS).
The call was made in a letter to the Attorney- General of the Federation (AGF). Falana reminded the AGF that Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court had on December 2, 2016, ruled that the continued detention of Sheik El-Zakzaky and wife, Ibraheema was illegal and ordered their immediate release from DSS the custody within 45 days. The court also ordered the Federal Government to provide a temporary accommodation for them, following the destruction of their property by the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State government in December 2015. In addition, the court awarded a N50 million compensation to the IMN leader and his wife.
None of the orders of the court, Falana noted, has been complied with.
"Although the deadline expired on January 16, 2017, the State Security Service has refused to release our clients from custody in utter contempt of the valid and subsisting order of the Federal High Court.
"The Federal Government has equally refused to comply with the other terms of the judgment," wrote Falana, adding that he was aware of a suit filed against the judgment at the Court of Appeal by the Office of the AGF.
However, since the appeal has neither altered nor suspended Justice Kolawole's orders, Falana argued, the AGF is duty-bound to advise the Federal Government to comply with the terms of the judgment.
"Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case we are compelled to remind you of the case of Nigerian Army v Mowarin (1992) 4 N.W.L.R. (pt 235) 345 where the Court of Appeal dismissed the motion for stay of execution of the judgment of the Lagos High Court for the release of the appellant.
"In justifying the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Kalgo J.C.A. (as he then was) held that 'the refusal of the application will not cause any injury to the applicant, but if the application is granted, the respondent will continue to suffer personally in detention after the court has declared her detention unlawful ab initio.'
"Based on the dismissal of the application for stay of execution, the then military junta released the respondent from further custody," wrote Falana.
He observed that the AGF's office has not filed an application for stay of the execution of the judgment ordering the release of El-Zakyzaky and wife by the Federal Government.
Falana asked the Federal Government, which claims to operate under the rule of law, to free the IMN leader and wife with immediate effect.
Should this not happen, the lawyer said he will not hesitate to pray the Court of Appeal to refuse to entertain the appeal filed by the Office of the AGF against the judgment of the Federal High Court.