The travails of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, in and outside the court in the last few years certainly has taken a toll on the nation’s economic development and adversely affected Foreign Direct Investment, FDI given the heat it had generated.
Therefore we demand that the Kaduna State government has been prosecuting the cleric charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations as well as members of the IMN popularly known as Shiites should defer to the rule of law in the interest of peace, stability and unity of the country. The latter had pleaded not guilty.
The top cleric, it is on record has been held in detention since December 2015 after a raid by the Nigerian Army on his residence in Zaria, Kaduna State when his adherents reportedly blocked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
The invasion by soldiers left more than 300 of Zakzaky followers dead among them his three sons while his wife, Zeenah sustained serious wounds too.
Regrettably however, an earlier ruling by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court ordering el-Zakzakky’s release on bail that would have perhaps doused the gathering storm then was flouted by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government on ground that it appealed the ruling.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, while defending the decision said the Attorney-General of the Federation at the time, Abubakar Malami (SAN), may have had his reasons for doing so since the government had the right to appeal the bail.
According to him, “I know that the immediate past AGF in whose purview it was to make pronouncements on that, address the issue. If bail is granted and another case subsists and there is an immediate filing of appeal, you have to wait till it is dispensed with.
“So, that is a legal matter which is outside my purview but as a layman, an unlearned man as lawyers would call us, we know that until all cases are dispensed with, you don’t say that it has been concluded.”
We note that rather than abate after the federal government’s decision, the clamour for the release of the cleric by his followers got intensified with Nigeria’s seat of power, Abuja badly hit by their rage while they ceaselessly demanded the release of their revered Sheikh or nothing.
What started initially as peaceful protests soon degenerated into bloody confrontation with security operatives which very sadly resulted in the loss of several lives among them Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP Usman Umar, who was in charge of Operations at the Federal Capital Territory Police Command, Abuja, Precious Owolabi, a reporter working with the Channels TV as a member of the National Youth Service Corps and others. Many people were also injured during the violent showdown in July this year.
That unfortunate incident in the otherwise relatively peaceful Federal Capital Territory, FCT hosting the ambassadors and high commissioners of countries with diplomatic relations with Nigeria, United Nations, UN agencies and development partners dealt a severe blow to the image of Nigeria before the community of nations such that Iran and some countries expressed interest in the matter.
Sadly however, one of the immediate fallouts of that bloody confrontation is that peace and security which are sine qua non for economic growth, encouragement of unity as well as attraction of Foreign Direct Investment, FDI have become seriously threatened even in the seat of power.
Secondly, the rule of law which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN, 1999) which is supreme and its provisions binding on all authorities and persons throughout the federation as stipulated in Section 1 (1), Chapter 1, Part 1, was momentarily subverted by those who are supposed to uphold it apparently not minding the negative consequences.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been defined as an investment in a business by an investor from another country for which the foreign investor has control (owning 10 percent or more) of the business while the advantages include boosting emerging market opportunities, provides local economic benefits in multiple locations, makes international trade easier to complete, improves human resources, provides a foreign company with needed experience and creates new opportunities for workers.
Investments can also provide better facilities for the foreign organization and better equipment assets for the socio-economic development of the benefitting coutry.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), FDI flows to Nigeria totalled USD 1.9 billion in 2018, and showed a decrease compared to (USD 3.5 billion in 2017) when the Nigerian economy was in recession.
And given Nigeria’s current socio-economic and human capital development indices, the government and citizens should not through omission or commission cause any action that will further undermine peace and security in the country.
We believe that Zakzakky’s aborted medical trip to India and his forced return home offers a ray of hope and an opportunity for both parties to toe the path of peace without further subjecting Nigeria to yet another round of avoidable crisis capable of scaring potential foreign investors and forcing a capital flight.
At a time Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world, with crude oil accounting for over 70 percent foreign exchange, rising unemployment, security challenges, deplorable state of public infrastructure and epileptic electric supply, no efforts should be spared in achieving lasting peace.
Indeed it is our candid view that there can’t be any alternative to strict observance of the rule of law as any further resort to self help will spell doom for the country and rob Nigerians of the massive investments expected from other climes needed to boost industrialization, generate employment and accelerate socio-economic development.
We particularly charged members of the IMN to give peace a chance and allow justice served since the Kaduna High Court had granted their leader leave to seek medical treatment in India even though the trip was ill-fated.
Similarly, the Kaduna State government should not employ any delay tactics in the handling of the ongoing prosecution of the Shiite leader as doing same is capable of putting his followers once again on edge.
We further charge potential investors and development partners to partner with the Nigerian government with a view to promoting further investment especially in the private sector which is the engine of national development.
It is by so doing that the anticipated FDI will flow into the country for the benefit of all stakeholders.