The Federal Government and the Department of State Services have several times disobeyed court orders on the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
The Muhammadu Buhari’s regime, embarrassed by the repeated court orders, had no option but to release the detained Islamic leader and his wife on Wednesday after another court judgment.
El-Zakzaky was arrested by the military on December 14, 2015, after a supposed clash between the movement and officers of the Nigerian army which resulted in the death of at least 347 members of the group.
He was detained for months without being charged to court, drawing outrage from several quarters.
At the time, his lawyer, Femi Falana, said the court should declare that the continued detention of his client without charging him was unlawful.
On December 2, 2016, the Federal High Court, Abuja, ordered the unconditional release of El-Zakzaky and his wife from detention within 45 days.
The court also ordered the Federal Government to provide new accommodation for El-Zakzaky in Zaria or any northern town of his choice.
The court, presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, also awarded El-Zakzaky and his wife N50million as general damages.
But the order was not complied with.
In January 2017, an Abuja Federal High Court, directed the then Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, the Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Director of the Department of State Services to obey its order granting release El-Zakzaky and his wife or face jail terms.
In a notice of consequence of disobedience to court order, the Federal High court warned the listed officials to release El-Zakzaky or face contempt of court charges which are liable to a jail term.
The notice sent to the trio read in part, “Take notice that unless you obey the direction contained in the order of the Federal High Court of Justice Abuja, delivered on the 2nd December 2016, which ordered you to release the Applicants in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/281/2016 and its sister case Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/282/2016 within forty (40) days, inter alia you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”
After two years, the Kaduna State Government charged the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and his wife and two others with various offences including the murder of a soldier.
The soldier, Corporal Yakuku Dankaduna who was allegedly murdered, was said to be in the convoy of the former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, during the December 2015 bloody clash between Shi’ites and the soldiers in the convoy in Zaria, Kaduna State.
In January 2021, the Kaduna High Court ordered the Nigerian Correctional Service to release Zeenat El-Zakzaky, to an isolation centre, for COVID-19 treatment.
Justice Gideon Kurada in his ruling specifically ordered that she should be moved to a government-approved isolation and treatment centre.
However, the Correctional Service claimed no inmate, including Zeenat, was infected with COVID-19 and the court subsequently revoked the order.
But Falana said wife of his client tested positive to COVID-19, adding that his team presented the results of the test before the court and applied that Zeenat is treated with a proper medical facility to get treatment.
About five years after their arrest and illegal detention, El-Zakzaky and his wife were released from the Kaduna Correctional Centre after they were acquitted and discharged by the Kaduna State High Court on Wednesday.
According to their lawyer, Falana (SAN), they have left Kaduna for an unknown destination.