The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, fixed June 14 to commence hearing on the N2billion suit the detained leader of the Shi’ite Islamic sect, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky,
lodged against the Federal Government. Justice Gabriel Kolawole okayed the matter for hearing after he ordered service of the relevant court processes on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.
Aside the AGF, other respondents in the suit which Zakzaky filed through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, are the Department of State Services, DSS, and the Nigerian Police Force.
Specifically, the Shi’ite leader who has been in detention since December 14, 2015, applied for the enforcement of his fundamental rights to life, personal liberty, dignity of human person, right to private and family life and private property.
The suit marked FHC/CS/128/2016, was predicated on sections 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40, 41 and 46 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as on Articles 4, 5, 6, 11 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, LFN, 2010.
The court is among other things, prayed to declare that “the detention of the applicant at Abuja by the respondents since December 14, 2015, is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates his fundamental rights to personal liberty as enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, and Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
Falana is contending that the continued detention of his client without being charged before a competent court is in violation of his right to fair hearing as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
He said that his client had since lost one of his eye owing to the treatment meted out to him by security agents acting on behalf of the federal government, adding that the detained Sh’ite leader was denied access to his medical doctors, family members and relatives.
Insisting that his client’s rights to health and association as enshrined in Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights was violated, Falana wants the court to declare that detention of the applicant “without access to his family and friends was not only illegal but in violation of his rights to freedom of association as enshrined in section 40 of the Constitution”. Likewise, he is praying the court for, “An order directing the immediate and unconditional release of the applicant from the custody of the 1st and 2nd respondents.
“An order restraining the respondents from further violating the applicants fundamental rights in any manner whatsoever and howsoever without lawful justification. As well as, “An order compelling the respondents, jointly and severally to pay the applicant the sum of N2billion as general and aggravated damages for the illegal violation of his fundamental rights to personal liberty, dignity of person, fair hearing, health, freedom of movement an freedom of association”.
It will be recalled that Zakzaky’s arrest and detention followed a violent clash that occurred at Zaria in Kaduna State on December 14, 2015, between his followers and detachments of the Nigerian Army accompanying the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General TY Buratai.
The clash had resulted in loss of lives of members of the Shi’ite sect, among whom included the applicant’s wife and son.