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Nigeria: Kaduna State Files Fresh Terrorism Charges Against Islamic Cleric El-Zakzaky

The Kaduna state government has filed fresh charges bothering on terrorism  against the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky. The state government also said it

The Kaduna state government has filed fresh charges bothering on terrorism  against the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
The state government also said it will appeal against Wednesday’s ruling of the  state High Court which  discharged and acquitted  El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, who were standing trial on eight count charge of culpable homicide, among others.
Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna state High Court, while ruling on a no case submission filed by El-Zakzaky’s counsels led by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had on Wednesday declared that the IMN leader and his wife, who have been in detention for over five years have no case to answer and accordingly discharged and acquitted them.
However in an interview with THISDAY on Friday, Kaduna State  Director of Public Prosecution and lead prosecution counsel, Mr. Dari Bayero said the terrorism charges were filed a Federal High Court in Kaduna on July 26, a day to the ruling of the State High Court.
Bayero said the case will be jointly prosecuted by the Federal and Kaduna state governments, adding that the charges are  under the Terrorism Act 2013.

“The terrorism case is the charge we file even before the ruling at the Federal high Court Kaduna judicial division.

“We filed the charges on July 26 before the ruling. We filed the charges based on his utterances  under section 17 of  the terrorism act 2013.

“We even attempted to serve him before the ruling, he refused to collect service”, Bayero said.

He said further that, “this case is supposed to be done in conjunction with the federal government. The federal ministry of Justice will send a team to come and prosecute with us. There is a team already, we have the details of the team”.

According to Bayero, an attempt was made to served El-Zakzaky with the papers while he was in prison, but he refused.

“We attempted  to serve him in Kaduna prison and he refused to collect. There is an evident to that effect.
“An affidavit will be duly sworn to that effect. We couldn’t move forward quickly because the federal High Court is on vacation”, he said.
Bayero also said the state government will appeal against the no case ruling of the state High Court.
“Of course we will appeal against the ruling. We have applied for the ruling and as soon as that is made available to us, we will go on appeal.
 “Definitely we will go on appeal. We have informed the court on our decision to appeal against the ruling”, he said.
However in his reaction, the spokesman of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said he was not aware of any case filed agains El-Zakzaky in any court.
“My findings  indicated that there are no court papers served to our leader. Definitely we are not aware of the charge in another court”, Musa said.
He however admitted that a day before the judgement of the state High Court, there was an attempt to serve El-Zakzaky the court papers.
“We are aware that a day before the judgment at the state High Court, they tried to make such moves but there was no judge assigned,  no court assigned for the case and we were not served with the papers.
“So it might be an attempt by them. But in reality our Sheikh or his lawyers have  not been served any court papers”, the IMN spokesman said in an interview on Friday.
Shortly after the court ruling on Wednesday, Zakzaky and his wife were said to have been discharged by officials of the the Kaduna Correctional Centre where they were being detained.
They were said to have been taken to a resident of one of his followers where family members, his followers and well wishers came to see him.
His Zaria residence and properties of the IMN said to have been demolished by the Kaduna state government after his arrest in December 2015.
Musa, said the IMN leader left Kaduna for Abuja on Thursday.
“He is now in Abuja, I can’t say he has a house in Abuja, but you know as somebody with many followers, he will not lack a place to stay”, Musa said.
El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested in December 2015 following a clash between his followers and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna state.
His followers who were said to be observing a religious ritual, allegedly blocked the highway and refused to allow passage to the convoy of the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai (now retired), who was in Zaria for the Passing Out Parade of the military school in the area.
The IMN members were  alleged to have turned down all appeals to allow the convoy of the army chief pass, leading to a confrontation.
The following day, soldiers allegedly sealed off the headquarters of the IMN in Zaria, leading to a bloody clash.
No fewer than 347 members of the IMN were killed and were buried in a mass grave in the Mando area of Kaduna metropolis.
El-Zakzaky and his wife were being prosecuted by the Kaduna state government on eight count charge of alleged culpable homicide, disruption of public peace and unlawful assembly among others.
Since their detention , his followers have been protesting in major cities, like Abuja, Kaduna and Kano, Sokoto, demanding for his release.
Some of their protests often resulted in deaths, following  violent clashes with security agencies, especially the police.
In December 2016, an Abuja Federal High Court presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole  ordered the release of  IMN leader and his wife from detention on the grounds that their continuous incarceration was unconstitutional and an infringement on their fundamental human rights.
The court had also awarded a N50 million compensation to the duo and ordered the federal government to provide a new accommodation for them in Zaria or any northern town of their choice.

John Shiklam in Kaduna