The Kaduna State Government has vowed to appeal the court ruling that freed 91 Shiites who had been detained for over four years.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how a Kaduna State High Court on Friday discharged the Shiites whom the Kaduna government accused of “Criminal Conspiracy, Culpable Homicide, Unlawful Assembly, Disturbance of Public Peace and Wrongful Restraint.”
The court said the Kaduna government could not prove its case against the Shiites.
The Shiites, members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were arrested in December 2015 after hundreds of Shiites were massacred by the army for blocking a public road.
Over 330 Shiites were killed in the massacre that has been condemned by local and international rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The killings is currently being investigated by the International Criminals Court (ICC).
No soldier or army officer has been prosecuted for the massacre.
However the IMN leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, are being prosecuted for their alleged roles in the murder of a soldier during the violence.
Dozens of Shiites calling for freedom for Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife have been killed across Nigeria since 2015. Some police officers and journalists have also been killed in such protests.
The 91 Shiites freed on Friday were arrested after the 2015 incident for their alleged roles in it.
In a statement by its attorney-general, Aisha Dikko, the Kaduna government said it is “dissatisfied with the ruling of the court which is, in our view, erroneous in law, perverse and cannot be supported having regards to the evidence led before the court by the prosecution.”
Ms Dikko provided information on the evidence the Kaduna government presented in court.
Read the full statement from the attorney-general below.
The Kaduna State Government will appeal the discharge of the defendants in the State versus Mahdi Munkaila and 91 others.
This is one the cases arising from the Zaria clashes of December 2015. After calling 36 witnesses and tendering 106 exhibits, the prosecution is surprised that the court concluded that a legally admissible case had not been made.
The state is dissatisfied with the ruling of the court which is, in our view, erroneous in law, perverse and cannot be supported having regards to the evidence led before the court by the prosecution. As such, the state will be lodging an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, as soon as the full text of the ruling of the high court and other records are compiled.
The case in KDH/KAD/40C/2016 began as a fallout of the events that began in Zaria from 12th December 2015 when members of a now proscribed group attempted to prevent the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff from passing through a public highway.
After the clashes, 90 of those arrested at the scene were handed over to the police. At the conclusion of investigations, a five count charge of Criminal Conspiracy, Culpable Homicide, Unlawful Assembly, Disturbance of Public Peace and Wrongful Restraint, under Sections 97, 221, 102, 106 and 256 of the Penal Code, was preferred against them. The matter was assigned to Hon. Justice H.T.D Gwadah of the Kaduna State High Court for trial.
A total of 36 witnesses were called by the prosecuting counsel from the office of the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice of Kaduna State. Witnesses included senior military officers who were with the Chief of Army Staff at the scene of the crime, Senior Police Officers, a Consultant Pathologist, Ballisticians and Victims of the crime.
In the same vein, 106 exhibits were tendered by the prosecution during the trial. At the close of the prosecution case, the defence team made a no case submission, arguing that the prosecution had not made out a case to warrant the accused persons to defend themselves.
It is a matter of utmost surprise that in its ruling today, 21st February 2020, the court held that the evidence the prosecution led is not legally admissible and discharged the defendants.This is notwithstanding the fact that Senior Military Officers and Senior Police Officers testified, and that exhibits were tendered and legally admitted by the court.
Obeisance to the rule of law compels us to challenge this conclusion at the Court of Appeal.
Attorney-General & Commissioner of Justice
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