A Kaduna High Court on Thursday ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to transfer the leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), also called the Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, to the Nigerian Correctional Centre in Kaduna.
This is to allow his lawyers and doctors have easy access to them.
But members of the movement opposed the transfer on the ground that it was a ploy to humiliate their leader and subject him to hardship.
The court order was delivered by Justice Gideon Kurada following the application by Haruna Magashi, counsel to the IMN leader, at the resumed hearing of the case in Kaduna.
The order came eight months after the last hearing of the case in April, 2019, when El-Zakzaky and Zeenat went for an unsuccessful medical attention in India.
The duo were arraigned for alleged culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace, among other charges, in another court.
They have been in custody of the DSS since 2015.
Justice Kurada, on April 25, 2019, adjourned the trial of the IMN leader indefinitely to enable him (judge) serve on the panel of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal in Yobe State.
At yesterday’s resumed hearing of the case, Magashi, who stood in for the lead counsel to the IMN leader and his wife, Femi Falana (SAN), applied for his clients’ transfer to the Kaduna Prisons, now called Correctional Centre.
The lawyer addressed reporters after the case was adjourned till February 6, 2020, for hearing.
He said the team of counsel to the IMN leader had always had difficulties whenever they wanted to see him at the DSS detention facility.
Magashi said the counsel and medical doctors would have easy access to El-Zakzaky and his wife if transferred to the correctional facility in Kaduna and that it would speed up the trial of his clients.
When the prosecution team, led by Dari Bayero, appeared in court to continue with the trial of the IMN leader and his wife, they were surprised by the court order.
Bayero, who is the Director Public Prosecution (DPP) at the Kaduna State Ministry of Justice, told reporters that his team was ready for the trial, but it was stalled.
He said the team would appear set for the trial on the adjourned date of February 6, 2020.
A statement by President of IMN’s Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, said: “We view any attempt to take Sheikh El-Zakzaky and his wife to anywhere other than a hospital that is sufficiently equipped to handle their medical needs as punishing them further.”
The movement denounced the facilities at Kaduna Correctional Centre, saying: “The Kaduna prison is dilapidated and is without any medical facility. It was in that very prison that some survivors of the ‘Zaria genocide’ of December 2015 died due to lack of medical attention. It can, therefore, never be a substitute for appropriately furnished medical facility that can take care of their urgent medical needs.
“The IMN condemns the wicked antics adopted today (yesterday) in court by the Kaduna State government through their prosecuting counsel aimed at humiliating our leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and subjecting him to further hardships.”