Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, has written to the Federal Government demanding the immediate release of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
In a letter addressed to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, Falana said it was unfortunate that the Federal Government was yet to comply with order made by the court for the release of the Islamic leader.
El-zakzaky and his wife were arrested by security operatives after members of the IMN clashed with troops of the Nigerian army on December 5, 2015.
Since then, the duo, have remained in detention even after a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the their immediate release.
According to Falana. “Since the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State government had engaged in the illegal destruction of the residence of our clients in December 2015 the court ordered the Federal Government to provide a temporary accommodation for them. The court also awarded reparation of N50 million to the couple.”
“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.
He also said the federal government has equally refused to comply with the other terms of the judgment.
“However, we are not unaware that your office has filed an appeal against the said judgment at the Court of Appeal.
Falana said since the filing of the appeal has not varied or suspended the orders of the judge.
He said the attorney general of the federation is duty bound to advise the federal government to comply with the clear and unambiguous 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 vs 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.”
He also said that in line with the principle of law espoused by the Court of Appeal in the case of Nigerian Army vs Mowarin (supra), the office of the attorney general has not filed any application for stay of the execution of the judgment of the Federal High Court.
“In view of the avowed commitment of the Buhari administration to operate under the rule of law we urge you to use your good offices to ensure that our clients are released from illegal incarceration without any further delay,” Falana said.
“However, if our request is not granted forthwith we shall not hesitate to pray the Court of Appeal to refuse to entertain the appeal filed by your office against the judgment of the Federal High Court until the Federal Government has purged of the contempt of the Federal High Court,” he said.