Reps to Buhari: Release El-Zakzaky now

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…El-Zakzaky, wife may die in SSS custody soon, son cries out

…Shiites continue protest in Abuja , vow to die for the cause

Barely 24 hours after a bloody confrontation between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN popularly known as Shiites in Abuja, House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the federal government to release Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the IMN, in line with several court rulings.

The House made this call while adopting a motion by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP Delta).

The lawmakers said the IMN members who have been protesting their leader’s continued detention could wreak more havoc on the country.

Sheik El-Zakzaky was arrested in December 2015 after Nigerian soldiers killed about 347 of his supporters during a clash in Zaria, Kaduna State. The soldiers had accused the Shiite group of blocking a major road that was to be used by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.

That massacre of the Shiites has been condemned by local and international rights groups.

Since the December 2015 tragedy, El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been in detention; first without trial for about a year. They were eventually charged with murder for the death of a soldier during the December 2015 incident.

Despite several courts granting him bail, the government has insisted on detaining him, thereby agitating his followers to embark on several protests.

The most recent of the clashes was at the National Assembly on Tuesday where the protesters clashed with security operatives while trying to gain access to the parliament.

Two police officers were shot while several cars were damaged during the clash.

This action prompted the motion by Mr. Elumelu in which he called on his colleagues to probe the attempted invasion of the National Assembly and ensure adequate security measures are in place at the legislative chamber.

While some of his colleagues agreed with the need for improved security, others emphasised that they should instead address “the root cause” of the protests which they identified as the continued detention of El-Zakzaky.

They argued that the circumstances surrounding the matter are similar to what led to the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgent group.

Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa-Ibom) said it is unfortunate that while the lawmakers are empowered to make laws, the federal government is going against the rule of law in disobedience to the court orders for the release of the IMN leader.

“If the court has given an order for the release of the man, we should call on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the National Assembly alone,” he said.

Bamidele Salam from Osun State said El-Zakzaky’s continued detention is injustice and “injustice to one is an injustice to all.”

He said: “I want to urge the federal government to look into the matter of the leader of this movement and allow the rule of law to take its course … to ensure that Boko Haram is not replicated in Shiites movement.

“If we are able to secure the National Assembly, what happens to the man and woman in the market elsewhere?

Hon. Simon Davou (Plateau, PDP) said rather than detain El-Zakzaky against court orders, the government should release him “and ensure surveillance, with enough security operatives to monitor his activities.”

Last year, Lai Mohammed, former minister of information, in defence of the Islamic leader’s continued detention said that no one wants to accept him as a neighbour.

Dozens of other Shiite members have been killed in different protests mainly in Abuja and Kaduna since the December 2015 incident.

The security agencies often accuse the Shiites of instigating the violence by using various weapons including petrol bombs; allegations the Shiites have denied

Meanwhile, Mohammed El-Zakzaky, son of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has raised concerns about the worsening health conditions of his father and mother, saying they had both been deprived of adequate medical care in custody.

Sheik El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, have been held in detention of the State Security Service (SSS) since December 2015 when Nigerian security forces breached their residence in Zaria and took them away.

Nearly 350 Shiites were killed by Nigerian soldiers during the attack on El-Zakzaky’s residence and worship centre between December 12 and 13, 2015.

More than 100 members have also been killed in relentless protests to demand the release of their leader since 2015. The demonstrations have held amidst competent court orders for the SSS to release the cleric on both health and fundamental rights grounds.

Mohammed El-Zakzaky said his parents’ health had seriously deteriorated when he visited them in custody on July 6, warning that time was fast running out on their recovery.

“Although I do not wish to give in to despair, at this current point I feel that there is little left that I can do to try to save them, as every single attempt we have currently made has either been deliberately frustrated or simply ignored,”  Mr. El-Zakzaky said in a statement.

He said his father had excessive concentration of lead in his bloodstream, yet DSS has been preventing him from getting necessary medical care from qualified personnel.

“My father was found to have unusually excessive and life-threatening concentrations of lead and cadmium in his blood. As a result of this, various experts we have consulted recommended immediate hospitalisation in a properly equipped facility and other medical procedures in order to try to save his life. This was over a month ago, yet nothing has been done to date,” he said

He also alleged inadequate care of her mother, whose pains he said had continued to worsen.

“My mother, on the other hand, whose numerous medical issues were well known since before, has similarly received none of the care that was recommended. The frequent attack of chronic pain which she had been suffering on average on a monthly basis has now turned into a daily routine. And to date, none of the underlying medical issues causing these attacks has been addressed.

“When we met aside from what could be visibly seen of their deteriorating condition such as my father’s teeth which in the space of a month has turned from dark brown to virtually jet black, my father also informed me of how his condition has been worsening since the last time we met.

“Most disturbing of these issues is the fact that he is beginning to show signs that are very similar to what happened before he had a stroke in January 2018. Whereas in the past he had only been suffering intermittent attacks of chronic pain, it has now become virtually a daily occurrence,” he said.

Mr Zakzaky said his father’s death may be imminent due to the actions of the federal government.

“Years ago I stated that it appears that there is a deliberate attempt to assassinate my parents through deliberate negligence towards their health, back then I did not know the extent of it and I am telling you. The fact that they have managed to survive this long is a miracle”, he said.

Similparly, hundreds of Shiite members on Wednesday in Abuja made good of their threat as they embarked on another massive protest and vowing to lay down their lives for their religion.

The peaceful protest which kicked off from  National Human Rights Commission in Maitama as protesters in their hundreds matched through Transcorp Hilton to Gana Street chanting anti government songs  calling for the release of their spiritual leader, Ibraheem El-Zakyzaky.

The defiant protesters however snubbed   the armed policemen who are patrolling the city in search of the group with the view to disrupting the plan protest.

The leader of the protest, Abdullahi Musa explained  that the level of lead poison in the blood of  El-Zakyzaky as detected by the doctors was 201.7 milligrams which is abnormal and therefore  put his life in danger.

According to Musa ” His life is in danger and there is no reason for us to go  back and sit down at home . The oppressors always brutalise , oppress and instill fears in the mind of the people.  We are ready to die in this cause and we have said it that we must come and they should get ready . If they like they should come and kill us”.

He however denied the  insinuations  that members of the movement shot two police officers and vandalised 50 vehicles at National Assembly.  He explained that police officers who were in mufti should be held responsible for the arson.

“We have been protesting even yesterday the protest took more than two hours peacefully before the police attack the protesters.  So we will never surrender and we will not stop what we are doing this is our constitutional rights . It is the right of Sheik El-zakyzaky to go for medical treatment and the court has granted him freedom and they should allow him to go, “Musa noted.

The protesters who later proceeded to Anwal Ibrahim Primary School Makaranta Suleja in Niger State where funeral prayers were offered for those who lost their lifes in the mayhem. The two deceased are Ja’afar Mikail  from Nasarawa  state and Mahmoud  Saqafa  from Niger State and will be taken to Zaria on Thursdays for burial.

Plateau Guber: Tribunal flays absence of Useni’s witnesses, threatens to dismiss petition against Lalong

The Plateau State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Jos on Wednesday flayed the absence of witnesses in the petition by Jeremiah Useni challenging Gov. Simon Lalong’s victory at the March 9 poll.

Useni, a retired Lt. Gen. in the Nigerian Army and former FCT Minister, contested the Plateau State governorship election as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but was defeated by Lalong, the incumbent of the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Useni subsequently filed a petition at the tribunal challenging the outcome of the election and having APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as co-respondents.

At the resumed hearing of the petition, the tribunal described the petitioner as unserious in the pursuit of his case following his lead counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome’s (SAN) request to tender some documents instead of leading the witnesses in evidence.

Ozekhome told the tribunal that the witnesses expected from Shendam, Qua’an pan and Jos East Local Governments could not make it to Jos.

He subsequently asked for a adjournment till July 11 to enable the expected witnesses to be available in Jos for their testimonies to be taken

However, the tribunal said that petitioner had ended up wasting the whole day of all that were present.

“This Tribunal is here for serious business and nothing else, so, we expect you people to be very serious, more so that this is your case. The day is still very young and you have taken 10 days out of your time already and here you are asking us to adjourn.

“This application is unnecessary because time, which is of essence is not on our side. If you are not serious with the case we shall have to wield the big stick. If this kind of unnecessary time wastage happens again, we shall not hesitate to close the petitioner’s case and dismiss it, “the chairman of the tribunal threatened.

After listening to all the respondents’ counsel, the tribunal admitted the documents tendered as exhibits and marked them appropriately.

It advised the petitioners to prepare well to take their remaining witnesses on the next adjourned date and adjourned the case to Thursday, July 11 for continuation of hearing.

Earlier, Lalong’s lead Counsel, Mr Pius Akubo (SAN) and that of APC, Mr. Garba Pwul (SAN) had strongly opposed the application for adjournment on the ground that the witnesses being expected were not coming from places far from Jos metropolis.

“My Lord, we are opposing this application on the ground that it’s a ploy to just waste our precious time. This is a serious business and we should be seen to be serious. It’s unfortunate that the whole day will be spent on tendering of documents.

“We wish to apply to your Lordship to wield the big stick on the Petitioners for wasting our precious time in Court today. The day is very young yet they want to waste it for us.

“The law gives your Lordship the power to dismiss this petition if the petitioners fail to do the needful because we have a practice direction and time limit, which shouldn’t be bastardised, “ Pwul argued.

However, INEC lead counsel, Mr. Clement Onwenwnor, did not object to the application for adjournment.

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