PRESS RELEASE –
IHRC has written to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, urging him to free Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and his wife Mallima Zeenah in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis that is engulfing the world.
The pair continue to be held despite the 2016 federal high court ruling that their detention is unlawful and unconstitutional. To this date the Nigerian authorities have failed to implement the court order to release them by January 16, 2017 and pay compensation. Instead, perversely, the state authorities in Kaduna decided in 2018 to prosecute the couple.
The couple were also recently transferred from the custody of the DSS to Kaduna State Prison despite the obvious risks that this raises for their physical and psychological wellbeing.
For public health reasons, many countries around the world have released tens of thousands of prisoners to help combat the spread of Covid-19 infection. IHRC is particularly worried by the potential of the virus to spread rapidly within prison populations.
Given the precarious condition of Mr and Mrs. Zakzaky, we are under no doubts if either of them contracted the virus it would effectively amount to a death penalty.
In view of the Covid-19 emergency and the fact that the Zakzakys have spent over four years in custody without any court proving any of the charges levelled against them, we have urged President Buhari to review their detention as a matter of urgency.
With each passing day the prosecution of the Zakzakys increasingly looks like it is a pretext for continuing to keep them in custody. Kaduna State Court, which is trying them on charges of ordering the homicide of a security official killed in the 2015 attack on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, has already thrown out murder charges against two groups of Islamic Movement supporters accused of killing the official for lack of evidence. If there are no perpetrators of an alleged offence it follows that there can be no one that has directed them to carry it out.
President Buhari should know that continuing to keep the couple in detention at a time when the risks to them are hugely magnified would be an act of wilful negligence, the potential consequences of which will ultimately fall at his feet.
The full transcript of the letter is available to read here: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/news/articles/25412-letter-to-president-buhari-seeking-release-of-zakzakys/
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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222