Kaduna:WTNS:Aug 1st: A Nigerian court on Wednesday acquitted Ibrahim Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, had been in detention since 2015 when he was arrested after a clash in which the army killed an estimated 350 people at an IMN compound and a nearby mosque and burial ground in northern Kaduna state.
“And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand”
Nigerian court acquits Islamic leader Zakzaky and wife of all charges, they were in detention since 2015 following a clash in which the army is said to have killed 350 people.
The couple had been facing a range of charges filed by the state government in 2018, including aiding and abetting homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace.
Justice Gideon Kurada ruled there were no charges to answer and acquitted the pair. Prosecution lawyer Dari Bayero confirmed the ruling. A Reuters witness saw the couple leave the courthouse in a van driven by supporters.
“None of the 15 prosecution witnesses proved they committed the offence,” lawyer Sadau Garba told after Wednesday’s hearing, adding that the couple had been acquitted and “regained their freedom today”.
Lead prosecutor Dari Bayero confirmed that the pair had been freed but said the state was planning to appeal.
“The court ruled that none of the witnesses we presented in court gave convincing proof that the duo were guilty,” Bayero said. “This doesn’t mean they can’t be re-arraigned … we are certainly going to file charges against the duo at appeal.”
IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa said the ruling “a victory for perseverance in the face of extreme persecution.” Zakzaky’s supporters at the courthouse said they feared police would re-arrest him following his release.
The police and Nigeria’s attorney general did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The government banned IMN in 2019 after a series of protests calling for Zakzaky’s release turned deadly.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International urged the Nigerian authorities to “immediately comply” with the court order. Human rights groups said at the time that some 350 IMN members were killed during two days of clashes and later buried in mass graves.
The army initially denied the events and blamed peaceful protestors for killing.
El-Zakzaky’s continued detention has led to street protests in the nation’s capital Abuja, sparking violent clashes with security forces that have killed dozens of lives.
In 2019, 100 arrested members were released in two batches after a court acquitted them.