Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has petitioned the State Security Service demanding the “unconditional release” of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the detained leader of the Shi-ite sect, and his wife, Zeenat.
Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since December last year, after a violent clash between members of his sect and the Nigerian army.
In a letter to the Director-General of the SSS, Mr. Falana demanded their release from “illegal detention” within 24 hours.
“Even though our clients have not been told that they breached any law, they have been denied access to their lawyers, personal physicians, and family members for over three months,” Mr. Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said in the letter dated April 5.
“Our clients were only permitted to meet with us last Friday after several requests made by us had been turned down without any legal basis.”
On December 12, last year, armed soldiers clashed with members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria at Zaria, Kaduna.
The next day, the soldiers returned to unleash more violence on the sect members.
More than 300 members were believed to to have been killed in the attack, which the army initially described as an attempt to assassinate Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff.
The military later released an edited video showing angry youth, armed with sticks and cutlasses, arguing with some army officers over the right of way for Mr. Buratai’s convoy.
Human Rights Watch described the killing as a “terrible carnage” and “unjustifiable.”
In the aftermath of the incident, the Kaduna State government set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry, but members of the sect boycotted the sittings in protest of their leader’s continued detention.
Mr. Falana said the “murderers and vandals” were later joined by officials of the Kaduna State government who demolished the sect’s buildings with bulldozers.
“Although our clients were not at the scene of the attack, the rampaging troops invaded their residence at Wali Street, Zaria, on December 14,” Mr. Falana said.
“The troops set the building ablaze and killed three of our clients’ children in their presence and thereby subjected them to untold mental agony.
“Thereafter, the armed soldiers shot our clients several times. As a result of the brutal attack, Sheikh Zakzaky lost his left eye while doctors are currently battling to save the right one.
“To compound the physical pain and mental anguish that our clients were subjected to in the circumstance, the Nigeria Police Force and State Security Service have held them incommunicado for the past three and half months.”
Mr. Falana said a similar incident in 2014 resulted in a detachment of the Nigerian Army killing three of Mr. El-Zakzaky’s children.
“The report of the fact-finding Commission of Enquiry set up by the government has not seen the light of day,” he said.
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