NIG to FG: Obey court order, release El-Zakzaky

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The New Independence Group (NIG) welcomes the judgement, last Friday, by an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court which ordered the release of the leader of the Shi’a Islamic Movement in Nigeria, (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
The group, in a statement signed at the weekend by its Convener, Professor Akinyemi Onigbinde, described the judgement as not only timely, but also a tribute to the vibrancy of the Nigerian judiciary.
With the judgement, the judiciary has, once again, further affirmed that it is, indeed, the last hope of powerless conscience against the excesses and impunity of conscienceless power who would elect to play god with man inalienable right to freedom, the NIG added.
El-Zakzakky has been detained by the military since December 14, 2015 following a face-off between some members of his sect and a group of soldiers over the right to public road.
According to the NIG, the continued detention, without trial, of the Shiite leader since then has been a flagrant violation of his fundamental rights to dignity, personal liberty and freedom of movement, which are guaranteed in sections 34, 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution respectively.
The group saluted the courage of the court for the judgment in spite of the crisis of confidence that has been orchestrated against judges in recent times under the pretext of cleansing that arm of government of corruption.
During the fracas, the soldiers reportedly killed at least 450 members of the sect and hurriedly buried them in a mass grave, which, in itself, is a very inhuman, barbaric and sadistic act by the government which is duty-bound to protect the lives and property of its citizens.
 The organization also condemned in the strongest terms the actions of the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, in the aftermath of the sad incident, describing statements credited to him as not only inciting, but  also unbecoming of a chief security officer of a state.
 It urged the Federal Government to obey the court without delay, if only on the principle of enlightened self-interest so that the Shiites and similar so-called fanatical religious movements do not go underground and adopt extreme violent dispositions as was the case with the Boko Haram insurgency from which the country is yet to be free.Obedience of judgements, emanating from courts of competent jurisdiction, no matter how disagreeable to executive sensibility, gives confidence to individuals and groups within a political system that justice can be sought and obtained by the aggrieved.
 The NIG urged the authorities to note that force has never been a panacea to crisis in the country as it led to the creation of monsters such as the Maitatsine sect and, more recently, Boko Haram.
It recalled that the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009 when the army arrested its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and turned him over to the Police, in whose custody he was extra-judicially murdered. In the aftermath of the protest that ensued, the army killed at least eight hundred of his followers and family members.
 Boko Haram survivors went underground only to emerge in 2011 under a new but blood-thirsty leader: Abubakar Shekau. It was at this point that Boko Haram was hijacked by external  forces and underwent an exponential transformation to a murderous monster that has continued to threaten the entire West African sub-region.
The NIG urged the Federal Government to desist from its unholy alliance with religion and insisted that no government should see itself as having the power to give legitimacy to any group, be it religious or social, as Governor el-Rufai recently did with the banning of the Shiite. The group noted that sections 38 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution guarantee freedom of thoughts and religion as well as peaceful assembly respectively. If the conduct of members of any group should contravene any law of the land , they can be made to face the full wrath of law for the specific offence, not that they can be placed under a blanket ban as el-Rufai has purportedly done, the NIG stated.
 To prevent a repeat in Zaria of what happened in Maiduguri, it is imperative that the judgement is promptly obeyed and El-Zakzaky is released, the group added.

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