*Institutes N2bn law suit against army, FG *Shiites have no respect for Nigeria’s sovereignty, police, DSS allege
R- L: Barrister Festus Okoye with Barr. Maxwel Kyong and Ummishatu Shehu Esqr. Counsels to the Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria at a Press Conference on Behalf of the Leader of the Movement Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky in Kaduna on Wednesday. Photo: Idris Egaji.
Counsel to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiites, Wednesday, disclosed that the leader of the movement, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, was being detained at the Headquarters of the Department of State Security (DSS) in Abuja.
At a news conference in Kaduna, the IMN counsel led by Mr. Festus Okoye, said El-Zakzaky has lost his left eye while his left hand is partially paralysed, adding that they could hardly recognise him when they met him in detention.
According to him, the Shiite leader now walk with the assistance of limps, saying El-Zakzaky has become a complete shadow of himself after the clash with the Nigerian Army in Zaria on December 12, 2015.
Okoye revealed further that El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, were fatally shot by soldiers who raided their Gyallesu residence in the wake of the bloody clash which left several members of the movement dead.
Only recently, Director General of the Kaduna State Interfaith, Alhaji Namadi Musa, while testifying before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry(JCI), disclosed that the 347 members of the sect were given mass burial at Mando area in Kaduna after the clash with the army.
According to the lawyers, El-Zakzaky was quite frail and looked completely different from who he used to be before he was arrested by the army.
“He lost his left eye and he struggled to recognise us because of the damage done to him by the army.
“His left hand completely lost its motion function. The wife was shot thrice.
“I must say they are not in a good state of health.
“Several operation had been carried out on them, especially the leader the IMN,” said Maxwell Kyon, one of the lawyers who visited El-Zazzaky in detention.
He dismissed claims that the Shiite leader was flown to France for medical treatment by the federal government, saying that all the operations on the Shiite leader and his wife were carried out in an undisclosed hospital in Lagos and the Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.
Okoye said during the meeting with El-Zakzaky, the legal team discussed the on-going panel set up by the Kaduna State Government on the Zaria clash.
He said the Shiite leader told them to institute a case against the army and the government (Kaduna), as well as his continued detention at the DSS at the regular court.
He said the IMN leader expressed his reservation over the Shiites putting up appearance before the Commission of Inquiry considering the composition of the commission and the fact that the Nigerian Army is a federal institution not subject to the control of the Kaduna State Government and its agencies.
He added that based on the instructions, the IMN had instituted a N2 billion suit against the federal government and its institutions for the abuse of the rights of the leader of the sect and the destruction of his residence.
He said on April 12, 2016, the legal team of the Shiite leader filed two originating motions before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on behalf of the El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
Joined in the suit, he said, are the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, the DSS, the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation.
He insisted that the IMN would not participate in the on-going panel on the clash as it will only amount to mere waste of time.
Okoye noted that the Shiites by now had been vindicated following the revelation by the state government that 347 members of the movement were given mass burial at Mando area of Kaduna.
The Nigerian Police and the State Security Services (SSS), yesterday alleged that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiite have no regards for constituted authorities.
The two security agencies also alleged that the Islamic group was being funded by Iran and Iraq.
There were separate testimonies before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna state government to investigate the December 12, 2015 clash between the Islamic group and the Nigerian Army.
The two security agencies said IMN was operating a state within a state with outright disregard to constituted authorities.
Testifying on behalf of the Nigerian Police, Kenneth Dika, a Deputy Superintendent of Police and a lawyer said the IMN does not recognised the constitutionality of the police.
Responding to questions under cross examination, Dika maintained that the Shiite has become a formidable organisation with arms and have refused to submit themselves to the authorities.
“Like the Boko Haram, if you trace the history of the Shiite, you will find that they have become difficult” he said.
He admitted that the police was aware of the activities of the Islamic group over the years, including complains by some residents of Sabon Gari, Zaria.
However, there was nothing much the police could do to check their excesses.
In its memo, the police alleged that over the years, members of the Islamic group don’t honour police invitations and were always in the habit of resisting arrest.
The “usual altercation between the Shiite and police are:
– Non recognition of police as a constituted authority,
– dishonouring of police invitations for whatever reason whenever invited, and,
– resistance of arrest whenever any of them is reported to have committed an offence,” the police alleged.
It alleged further that the group was being funded by Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and the Lebanese community in Nigeria,” the police said.
The police urged the federal government to “control the source of external funds for the sect especially from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Lebanese community in Nigeria”.
Dika said the army did not inform the police about the visit of Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to Zaria on December 12, 2015.
Not until during the face-off that erupted with the Shiite when the Kaduna state police commissioner was informed and promptly gave instructions to the police area commander in Zaria.
He stated further that the police was not aware of a mass burial given to the victims of the incident, adding that investigations were still going on to determine the casualty figures.
“We are yet to ascertain the number of deaths, some members of the MNI said their relations were killed, but the police is yet to conclude investigations.
“When it is an allegation of murder, investigations does not close until after seven years.
He disclosed that on December 13, 2015, a total of 270 suspects were handed to the police by the military.
On its part, the SSS officer in charge of Sabon Gari, Zaria, Mohammed Usman who presented the service’s memo before the commission alleged that the Shiite have no respect for the sovereignty of Nigeria.
“They don’t believe in the sovereignty of Nigeria, they have their flags. IMN is a state within a state.
“They have strong affiliation with Iraq and Iran due to the fact that these countries have a large population of Shiite members.
“I am aware of complaints of residents of Sabon Gari about them.
“When people come to complain to me about them, I persuade them to bear the situation because when the IMN officials are invited for a chat, they don’t come,” he said.