PRESS RELEASE: Nigeria – Calls to Release Zakzaky, Zeenah from Senior Figures and Lawyers worldwide

1st July ‘No case’ hearing determines if Nigeria chooses – autocracy or people’s representation


Lawyers, Academics, political and civil society figures worldwide continue to call for the Zakzakys release.

Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton, and former UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk said:

“I call for the immediate release from forced detention of Sheikh El-Zakzaky and Mallima Zeenah, leaders of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. They have been unjustly detained in prison since 2015, interfering with their human rights and the freedom of religion.”

John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies said:

“The Nigerian courts ruled in 2016 that Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky should be released from detention. Yet he remains detained, along with his wife Mallima Zeenah. This is a clear violation of human rights. The Nigerian government must respect not only its own court decisions but international norms and practices by releasing the Zakzakys immediately.”

Speaking from the Zakzakys legal team Barrister Ishaq Adam Ishaq stated:

“We are arguing that there is no case to answer, and are deeply concerned that it has taken so long for this case to be heard when clearly the defendants have serious health difficulties.”

IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh said:

“Nigeria cannot continue to protest to the world that it is transforming into a democratic state that values equality and social justice, whilst detaining and killing hundreds of innocents and dissidents.  The case of the Zakzakys embodies the stark choice the authorities face.  We urge them to reject their oppressive policies, and start by freeing Sheikh El-Zakzaky and Mallimah Zeenah.”

Advocates and human rights campaigners world-wide are calling on the Nigerian authorities to release Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and Mallima Zeenah[1], the leaders of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, who have been variously detained and imprisoned since December 2015, when army and security forces attacked various movement sites and killed 1000 of the movement’s followers, including three of the sons of the couple[2].  They have been held despite a Federal Court Order claiming their detention is illegal and demanding their release and the payment of compensation.

Currently the pair have been enduring a continually disrupted and delayed hearing to dismiss a case initiated against them in Kaduna.  The hearing continues on 1st July at the Kaduna High Court.

For further comment and information please contact +442089044222 or +447958522196, or email media[AT]ihrc.org.

Notes to editors:

A detailed press pack on the case is available here.

[1] Background to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria by Caterina Aiena

[2] The Attack against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (as submitted to the ICC) 2016

      And

      The 2020 update to the 2016 report