Don’t demonise Shiites, Judge warns Nigerian government

Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky
Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday warned Nigeria’s government against demonising Shiites and their Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.

Delivering judgement in a bail application sought by the IMN leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the trial judge, Gabriel Kolawole, said Nigeria’s government must allow its citizens enjoy the fundamental right to freedom.

“I am of the view that the applicant need not be demonised, but that they should be allowed to practice the faith they choose,” said Mr. Kolawole.

The judge said Nigeria’s law allows a person or group to practice whatever religion they choose and in whatever manner that they deem fit.

He said although it is a known fact that most Nigerian Muslims are Sunnis, the constitution allows freedom of thought and worship.

Mr. Kolawole described the Shiite’s relationship with the Nigerian government as “delicate and slippery”.

He said his court was set to give its judgement since October 5 but decided to allow parties settle out of court, considering the sensitive nature of religious issues.

“They are much more delicate and judicially speaking, slippery in nature,” Mr. Kolawole said.


The judge added that despite repeated claims by the respondent’s lawyer, Tijjani Gazali, that the arrest was a constitutional step aimed at safeguarding the life of the applicant, he (Mr. Gazali) has not been able to back his claims with constitutional provisions.

Mr. Kolawole said “not even a microscopic view of the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria revealed any provision where an adult is allowed to be held in detention for his safety.”

He added that the documents before the court have not shown that the applicant gave his approval for the said “protective detention.”

“It is my conclusion that the applicant deserves to have judgement given in his favour,” said the judge while granting the application for bail.

“I have not been shown any incident report or any complaint lodged by residents around the neighbourhood that the applicant has become a nuisance to his neighbourhood,” said the judge.

He said the decision of the government to hold the applicant for so long amounted to great danger.

Citing the death of former leader of the Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, in detention, the judge said; “If the applicant dies in custody which I do not pray for, it could result in many needless deaths”.

Mr. Kolawole said the government should within 45 days release the applicant and his family to the police, who shall within 24 hours take them, guarded by escort, to a safe place. Failure to comply with the action, Mr. Kolawole said, will attract a fresh course of action by his court against the respondents.

He added that the respondents namely; the SSS, Inspector General of police and the Attorney General of the Federation, will pay a fine of N25 million each to Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife, making N50 million.

Mr. El-Zakzaky was arrested by the military on December 14, 2015, after a clash between the movement and officers of the Nigerian army.

The army killed at least 347 members of the group.

Mr. El-Zakzaky approached the court to demand his release, months after he was arrested without being charged to court.

He asked the court to declare that his arrest and continued detention violated his fundamental rights.

His lawyer, Femi Falana, said the court should declare that the continued detention of his client without charging him, was unlawful.


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  • imagine_2012

    Very good judgement from a good judge.

    • Emeka

      The judgement may have sounded good and perfect, but full of flaws! No matter what we do, we must preach and reoriented people to always obey the law of the land. If you feel aggrieved, or perhaps feel your fundamental human rights are been trampled upon, then you must seek for justice in a court of competent jurisdiction, that’s how civilized societies grow and remain peaceful nations, instead of blocking a federal highway, and have miscreants assault an army general, by punching his chest, that is completely unacceptable in a civilized nation where we have rule of law.

      Fine! it’s wrong to demonize Shiites, at the same time, very wrong for Shiites to take laws into their hands all in the name of having a religious possessions in the middle of a federal road. Don’t forget, “where a man rights stop, is where another man’s rights begin.” That was actually what gave birth to the incarceration of their leader, which experts and intelligence gathering attribute to security risk, if not nip in the bud. The judge should be man enough to rebuke them for taking laws in the own hand, if not so, we are indirectly creating another bokoharam.

      • imagine_2012

        Nearly everything you stated above is hogwash. The FG is fond of flouting it own laws. The army believes that it is above the law, so what moral right have these two entities to preach the rule of law. I am yet to see any decent country where an army general kills 600 of his own people and is all;owed to go scot-free. If 200 cows should die in Norway, the Norwegian nation would surely be in grief. But here in a country supposedly, an army officer kills and buries 600 and goes about his duties like nothing happened. The murderous job undertaken by Bruitai or whatever is his name should be done by the an agency for road safety or the Kaduna state police and not a know-nothing army general. I do not trust any Nigerian intelligence gathering. An intelligence infrastructure that has murdered Shekau like five times and counting, is not worth its salt. As for another boko haram, more will still come. Anywhere the Saudis finance mosques building, there you will find boko haram. Just calm down, more boko haram is coming.

        • musa aliyu

          You’ve not replied Emeka’s sane argument. Which civilised law asks them to block a Federal road, and which asked them to block the army chief, a symbol of our sovereignty from just passing a road? Which law gave them the right to block governor yero from entering Gyellesu sometimes ago? If these scalawags could go this far, can U imagine what Zaria people must have gone through in the hands of these miscreants?

          • imagine_2012

            I do not see the army chief like you see him. If he symbolizes that for you, then good for you. Which law gave the army chief the right to kill en masse?

          • musa aliyu

            If you don’t see him as an emblem of national integrity then you must be part of them who do not respect the sanctity of this nation. You surely see Iran as your nation. Then go there. As long as Nigeria stays, any army in uniform, is in the line of duty and any attempt to block him from his target is an affront to war. And in war, the most tactical reigns supreme. If they block the road tomorrow again they will be stampeded, exterminated. That’s the law!

          • aboki

            Don’t mind those WAILING WAILERS they try to involve themselves in an issue that does not concern them and ignorant about it.
            Since they have inbuilt HATRED on PMB, Islam and north they participate with mischievous and abusive comments.
            When the GOVERNMENT anvailed 200000 jobs creation it’s a non issues to them . We know THEM by their CHARACTERS and poor background.

          • musa Ayo

            Honestly I wanted to ignore your supposed ‘happiness’ on the actions of the army. But your name indicates that you practice the same religion with the people you so hate. Do you know the waves you are sending to people of other religions about your religion? It is so pathetic that people of other religions are the ones complaining about this massacre.
            Could you please answer this question?
            Is massacre the punishment for those that blocks the road? Where is the humanity in you!

          • imagine_2012

            I see the way Nigerian soldiers act, they are not emblems of integrity. They are a constant reminder of the sad existence and the maltreatment of an average Nigerian by the state.. Nations that maltreat the downtrodden of their own society do not deserve respect and Nigeria does not deserve my respect. Nigeria has not earned respectability. I see Brutai as a mass murderer that he is. You are free to see integrity. Might is not right.

          • Patrick

            You must be one of those individuals who hack people to death for supposedly blaspheming Islam. Just listen to yourself! You need your head fully examined because you are nothing but a butcher!

          • imagine_2012

            You are a devil and an islamic one at that.

          • Emeka

            Which law gave a group of people the right to block a federal highway and assault an army general, even after repeated plea by the soldiers which was shown on video? Please lecture us about the law that the encourages that?

          • imagine_2012

            So for what ever reason, you sanction the killing en masse of civilians by their own soldier. No wonder Nnamdi Kanu calls here a zoo, It is only in a zoo that soldiers kill citizens. Nigerian soldiers has killed more Nigerians than foreigners. What a national army. Anyway way, I have checked up other countries where soldiers kill civilians en masse, and guess what, they are all rubbish countries – Nigeria, Guinea, Congo, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Sierra Lone, Sudan. All are zoo countries.

          • Patrick

            Emeka, so, they block a federal road and the best thing to do is butcher them in their hundreds? What are you even saying? Were we not in this country when former President Jonathan was pelted with stones during campaign in one of the states in the north? How many people were murdered? If a sitting President could comport himself decorously in the face of attack, who is a bloody army chief to murder people simply because they blocked his path? Is shooting crowds with live bullets the only way to disperse them? Aren’t there other methods? Abeg, make you no justify nonsense abeg!

          • Patrick

            Musa Aliyu, will you please argue sensibly? How is Buratai symbol of Nigeria’s sovereignty? Not even President Buhari, elected by over 15 million Nigerians has the right to murder hundreds of people and still keep his job. If people block the road, you get them off using less brutal means. At any rate, all those accusing the Shiites of wielding guns and other dangerous weapons on that day, has anyone of you seen the full video of the incident? Why doesn’t the army present it to the public to justify its position?

          • aboki

            Patrick u didn’t know THEM right now they are holding Iranian Flag with Pictures of Ayotallah Knamnaei to match in country called Nigeria. I happened to be close area were they are doing there processing. Can Iran tolerated such acts in their Country?

          • Otile

            Is that a good reason for Buhari and Buratai to commit ungodly pogrom on them?

        • Burbank

          And your own PDP boss Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff is a Boko Haram sponsor founder!

          • imagine_2012

            If you can’t raise your way of thinking above Jonathan, then you have a problem.

      • Burbank


  • St

    If the judge gives this man his freedom, what about the violence around Kaduna and Zaria?? What’s the way forward with the security issues there? Cos if you live around this place, then you will understand he atrocities these IMN under the shade of Shites commit

    • Ajah Exodus

      Catch them and prosecute them, the court would find them guilty and sentence them.

  • Excisionist

    Justice Gabriel Kolawole, is the kind of judge needed in today’s Nigeria. Sunni Muslims don’t realize how shameful their behavior is. Given the chance, they will create an ISIS like caliphate and suppress anything that is not Sunni Islam.

    Muslims in Northern Nigeria have a copy-cat mentality. Whenever the mentally deranged Arab Muslims go into their normal frenzy the illiterate northern Nigerian Muslims always follow suit – be it about the Mohammed cartoon, satanic verses or Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Shiite Muslims have become the punch-bag of Sunni Muslims in the middle east, so, the illiterate northern Nigerian Muslims sheepishly follow suit.

    Most shamefully, it is the Nigerian government (just because it is headed by a Sunni Muslim) that is the culprit here. Other judges and justices should join Justice Kolawole and oppose this evil. Nigeria is not fiefdom. It is a democratic country

    I salute you Justice Gabriel Kolawole

    • musa aliyu

      After your salutation. Looks like you are a child. Go learn that ayatollah khomeini, a Sunnis, by your insinuations, was the one who pit a price tag on Salman Rushdie for blasphemy. You and the judge do not know the ShShiites that’s why you’re seeing them being demonized. Go to the north where they have been cohabiting with others and hear thebgory tales of their terror. A people that prevented a sitting governor accESS to a hamlet in Zaria?! Go to Zaria and ask before U blabber. Seems you haven’t gone through the testimonies against the hoodlums which is on the net.


        What? Is it true?

      • Noble

        Shshshsh! Enough is enough. Let us discuss as intellectuals!

      • Ajah Exodus

        They are being demonized because u are arresting him after killing over 300 of his members and kept him in detention for a year now without prosecution, with nothing at all, my friend, is that is sunni’s way, then it is wickedness and tyranny. If the federal government feel they did nothing wrong by killing 300 people then they should prosecute him and give him fair hearing. This is intimidation and bully just because u wield the powers

        • Burbank

          How many people had fair hearings when the US UK drones killed them in Pakistan Yemen Iraq Afghanistan daily?

          • Ajah Exodus

            US UK drones killed terrorists not worshipers. And moreover that was why Guantanamo Bay was voted to be shutdown by the American people because of violation of human rights to detained terrorists. You cannot call Elzakzaky a terrorist until proven so. Its like calling Mohammed Morsi of Egypt a terrorist for being d head of Islamic brotherhood. I am not a muslim to support shiite movement but then I am against injustice and dictatorship. There is no difference between u and those who burnt the 7 years old boy for stealing. When Yusuf was killed extra judicially it led to boko haram uprisings and made those who never would have been terrorist to willingly join them and pick up arms against the government. This government has not obeyed any court order since its inception except the ones that pronounces the APC winner of election.

          • Burbank

            “US UK drones killed terrorists not worshipers. ”

            So the US drones NEVER killed innocent civilians.

            Your Lies and falsehoods are easily debunked by hard facts.

            “Nearly 90 Percent Of People Killed In Recent Drone Strikes Were Not The Target. ”
            Huffington Post
            October 15, 2015
            www huffpost com/us/entry/us_561fafe2e4b028dd7ea6c4ff

            And Guantanamo is still active today packed with detainees were arrested and detained for decades without prosecution!

          • Ajah Exodus

            You are not getting the point young man….i never said it was right to kill people or detain them illegally…whether US, UK, or Nigerian! In the US and UK the mass voted against such action even if it wasnt carried out, it is wrong, are u deaf? It is illegal or did I tell u I support the actions of the US either….na wa for u o…what are u arguing sef.

          • Burbank

            In other words, nearly 90% Of people killed In the drone strikes Were NOT terrorists, as you had blatantly lied.

          • Ajah Exodus

            That is ur statistic and not the basis of our argument in this article. The argument is illegal detention of a civilian or terrorist. Zakzaky is not a terrorist as he supported the onslaught against boko haram and has not been indicted in any terrorist activity. US drone strikes are specific, if u are talking of civilian casualties they cannot be even 40%. Bring ur facts of 90%. Jonathan’s presidency acknowledged the shiites procession was peaceful and the army acknowledged that the killing of his sons was not supposed to happen to him and opened a probe panel, has Buhari’s administration acknowledged anything? But instead justifying the killing. US drones are mistakes, Shiite killing is intentional and objective.

          • Burbank

            Thanks for admitting your lies – drones do kill innocent civilians and not just suspected terrorists, without court judgements.

            And drones killing are intentional and objective and the reference is already given earlier to debunk your lies

            www huffpost com/us/entry/us_561fafe2e4b028dd7ea6c4ff

            www washingtontimes com /news/2015/oct/15/90-of-people-killed-by-us-drone-strikes-in-afghani/

      • objective

        Maybe they are only reacting to extreme aggression of many years.

    • Marcus Ijele

      Bros, are you sure the Gabriel was not acting what the Buhari Government asks him to act for them to have a bold face to release him? Are you sure the man is not carrying out an assignment for Buhari? This Government may have felt tired of keeping him and wants a pronouncement that will help them out.

      • Ajah Exodus

        What u just said lacks common sense.

      • objective

        So anywhere judges turn is wrong? If they do their jobs well should we again condemn them?

    • Burbank

      Just like the evil biafran Alhaji Dokubo Asari is a Sunni.

  • Taiwo

    Despite the judgement, Buhari will refuse to release him because the man’s state of health will send shockwaves around the world. In fact, it may be the begining of the end for his regime.

    • O’Hose

      …….My people……it’s not looking good O……Buhari is losing goodwill very fast……
      ….more than he’s gaining it…..and now…after 17 months…..he has negatives ……
      ………..numbering enough to write a book……….from his blunders overseas… this….
      …huge suspicion… that he’s another Fulani Islamist hegemonist and northern tribalist……
      ……….but, that’s a smelly body odor to carry around…….if it also includes…… as it does…..
      …….jumping the window of parliament to forge appropriation bills…….. and merely winking….
      …at the genocide of 300+ Shiite Muslims, and, winking at the murders committed daily……..
      ………………….by the rifle-bearing mad and maddening Fulani herdsmen……………

      • defacto


        Muhamadu Buhari has
        made history as the first sitting president ever to be referred to the
        international Tribunal on Genocide, within six [6] months of taking office
        after an election, to investigate his command and control as the commander-
        in-chief with the ultimate responsibility for 347 Nigerians killed by some invading
        Nigerian soldiers, who were dumped in mass graves in Kaduna state, Nigeria.

        • Burbank

          And Buhari will be arrested today and Nnamdi Kanu will be federal president of biafra in London zoo.

      • Burbank

        And biafran Alhaji Dokubo Asari is a Christian from Sokoto!

    • Burbank

      Just like those Guantanamo detainess.

  • lawal

    They have to practice their religion in a peaceful manner not in the way they doing it. Mr. Kolawale Judge you don’t no Shi’a group are not recognizing the constitution as a law, to them who soever is making judgement with constitution he deserve no respect. Similarly, for those who are saying Sunni Muslim if they are given the chance they can create an ISIS, is not true, you people are only commenting ignorantly ISIS, Boko Harram, Al-Shabab, etc. was only international politics to create problem in the developing nations so as not be developed, also to market the weapons as no war, no market for the so-called super powers weapons industry.
    Finally, you should not call any region or religion as illiterate (Go to UN meaning of literacy), and for the religious peace and unity you should made a good comment on issues like this

    • North/West Allies

      I prefer the shiite muslims than you wicked sunnis

      • Burbank

        You preferred Hezbollah over Boko Haram???

        • North/West Allies


    • Ajah Exodus

      U talk like a sunni! Even I as a xtian does not condemn ur religious practices as muslims. That kind of condemnation is only born out of hate. Do u want Nigeria to be like Lebanon and the rest which are violently divided among sunni and shiite factions. Is Boko haram not Sunni? Who has constituted more nuisance then?

    • objective

      I am sorry sir, but I fail to see your point here. What the judge is saying is that you should leave the people alone. Let them practice their religion the way they please; you don’t all have to do it the same way and you shouldn’t force other. I am sorry if it sounds rash, but from the catalogue of violent Islamic events around them world, it will be save to conclude that the Shia Muslims are the peaceful ones and unfortunately the victims. The aggressors in every region have been the sunni Muslims. Please don’t make Nigeria a battle ground. I am not a Muslim, but we have all been watching. Enough of this wickedness towards fellow human beings..

  • Ajah Exodus

    Oh! How i love fearless judges even in the face of Judicial intimidation. Though I know the DSS will soon go after you Mr Kolawole…lol. But someone needs to voice out and be unbowed even in this trying times of impositions and impunity.

  • Burbank

    If Zakzaky had been law-abiding, he will not be in detention today and Jonathan did not have to kill his 3 sons then!


    Buhari and his lawless Sunni-Muslim fanatics at Aso rock have their own “made in Daura constitution” which is more important to them.

  • I think Buhari should be impeached for his countless constitutional violations. We applaud this learned judge for restoring our faith in the judicial system. The judge should double the punitive damages.