Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have advised President Muhammadu Buhari to release El-Zakzaky, the detained leader of Shiite Islamic group.
El-Zakzaky has been in detention since members of his Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) clashed with personnel of the Nigerian Army in 2015.
The bloody clash led to the arrest of the cleric alongside his spouse. They were arraigned and granted bail by different competent courts but the Federal Government has refused to obey the decision of the judiciary citing national security as its reason.
The lawmakers also condemned, in strong terms, Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly complex by the Shiite group, which reportedly led to loss of life and properties.
This followed a unanimous adoption of a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta).
Elumelu, leading debate on the motion, expressed concern over increasing violence by the Shiite members who have been protesting El-Zakzaky’s continued detention.
Whereas some lawmakers said there was need to address “the root cause” of the protests, which they identified as the continuous detention of El-Zakzaky; others, however, called for a holistic review of the nation’s security architecture.
They warned that similar circumstances led to the emergence and subsequent metamorphosis of Boko Haram, hence the need for caution.
Onofiok Luke (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said it was unfortunate that while the lawmakers were empowered to make laws, the federal government was going against the rule of law in its disobedience to the court orders ordering the release of the IMN leader.
“If the court has granted an order for the release of the man, we call on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the National Assembly alone,” he said.
Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun) described El-Zakzaky’s continuous detention as injustice, since “injustice to one is injustice to all.”
“I want to urge the federal government to look into the matter of the leader of this movement and allow the rule of law to take its course to ensure that Boko Haram is not replicated in the Shiites movement,” he said.
For Simon Davou (APC, Plateau), he said rather than detain El-Zakzaky against court orders, the government should release him “and ensure surveillance, with enough security operatives to monitor his activities.”
Recall that El-Zakzaky was arrested in 2015 after the group clashed with a convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Yusuf Buratai, in Kaduna State.
Consequently, there have been several court orders granting him bail, which the federal government has refused to heed, thereby prompting several protests from the group, including Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly complex in Abuja.