Nige­rian court or­ders re­lease of Shi­ite leader

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Nige­rian court yes­ter­day or­dered the re­lease of the leader of a pro-Ira­nian Shi­ite group detained since De­cem­ber af­ter his fol­low­ers clashed with sol­diers. The fed­eral high court in Abuja said Ibrahim Zakzaky, who heads the Is­lamic Move­ment of Nige­ria (IMN) and his wife should be re­leased within 45 days and or­dered the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide them with a new home fol­low­ing the de­mo­li­tion of their res­i­dence dur­ing the vi­o­lence.

“The ap­pli­cant is en­ti­tled to have judg­ment en­ter in his fa­vor,” said Judge Gabriel Ko­la­wole in his rul­ing on Zakzaky’s le­gal chal­lenge against his de­ten­tion. The judge also dis­missed the ar­gu­ment of the pros­e­cu­tion and se­cret po­lice that the Is­lamic cleric was be­ing kept in “pro­tec­tive cus­tody”. Ko­la­wole said he would have given an or­der for the cleric’s im­me­di­ate free­dom had his home not been de­stroyed dur­ing the vi­o­lence.

“The ap­pli­cant shall be re­leased within 45 days from to­day,” he said, adding that he should be given a “proper and de­cent” ac­com­mo­da­tion in a place of his choice in north­ern Nige­ria. The judge also awarded 25 mil­lion naira ($79,000) each to Zakzaky and his wife for un­law­ful de­ten­tion. The cou­ple were ar­rested on De­cem­ber 15, 2015 af­ter two days of bloody clashes be­tween his sup­port­ers and sol­diers which led to the death of over 300 peo­ple, in­clud­ing his two chil­dren.

His house and head­quar­ters of the IMN were also razed. Zakzaky was said to have lost an eye and was left partly par­a­lyzed in the vi­o­lence. The fight­ing be­gan on De­cem­ber 12 when sup­port­ers of the pro-Ira­nian cleric re­fused to al­low the chief of army staff’s con­voy to pass through the north­ern city of Zaria in Kaduna state. In April, rights group Amnesty In­ter­na­tional ac­cused Nige­ria’s mil­i­tary of shoot­ing dead some 350 Shi­ite Mus­lims, bury­ing them in mass graves and de­stroy­ing ev­i­dence of the crime. He has pre­vi­ously been im­pris­oned for calling for an Ira­nian-style rev­o­lu­tion to cre­ate an Is­lamic state in the coun­try’s north.

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