Thousands of Shiites invade Abuja streets to protest continued detention of their leaders.
Below is the Solidarity address of Femi Falana SAN at the rally held by the Shiite Community at Abuja on April 12, 2018)
I am impressed with your courageous and peaceful protest which has rocked the city of Abuja today. Your action is justified under the Constitution which has guaranteed the fundamental rights of every citizen to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Your action is legitimate because it is a protest against impunity arising from the executive lawlessness of the federal government. Your demand is in order because it is in line with the tenets of the rule of law. Please keep it up.
When we were fighting for the restoration of democratic rule under brutal military dictators I never thought in my widest imagination that court orders were going to be treated with disdain by elected governments. It is particularly painful for me that court orders are disobeyed under the current political dispensation whereas under the Buhari/Idiagbon military junta the orders of court for the release of victims of the obnoxious Decree No 2 of 1984 were complied with.
I urge you and other lovers of democracy not to allow the Buhari administration to disobey the judgments of competent courts like the Olusegun Obasanjo regime which recklessly treated the judgments of the Supreme Court and other courts with contempt. As you are no doubt aware, the federal high court presided over by the Honourable Justice G. O. Kolawole ordered the release of your leader, Sheik Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife and awarded them N50 million damages. Since the Nigerian Army and the Nasir El-rufai regime had demolished and set their residence on fire on December 15, 2015 the federal high court ordered the federal government to provide them with a suitable accommodation. Those orders which were granted on December 2, 2016 have been ignored by the Mohammadu Buhari administration which claims to operate under the Rule of Law.
Having been subjected to illegal arrest and detention by military dictators I can imagine the mental and psychological agony the Elzakzakys are going through in the illegal custody of the State Security Service. It is an irony that President Buhari is in charge of a civilian government that is detaining people without trial. Even though he detained me without any legal justification i mobliized my colleagues in the human rights community to fight for his release when he was incarcerated by a fellow coup plotter, General Ibrahim Babangida. So, I have a moral right and political obligation to demand for the release of all detainees from illegal and contemptuous incarceration under the Buhari administration.
In solidarising with you on this occasion i wish to join you in demanding for the immediate and unconditional release of Sheik Ibraheem and Hajia Elzakzaky. However, if the federal government has evidence that they have committed any criminal offence whatsoever they should be arraigned in court. I commend you for your resolute and principled determination to secure the release of your leaders and other citizens who are being held without trial all over the country. Please continue the protests until you have succeeded in compelling the federal government to comply with the orders of the federal high court and the Ecowas Court of Justice for the release of all detainees in the country.