The Kaduna State High Court, on Wednesday, discharged and acquitted the embattled leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, who had been standing trial since December 2015.
Their detention and subsequent trial followed a clash between the convoy of the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, and members of the sect in Zaria, which left several dead.
In the eight-hour judgment, Justice Gideon Kurada upheld the no case submission filled by the Shi’ite leader and his wife.
They were charged with culpable homicide, disruption of public peace and unlawful assembly, among others, by the Kaduna State Government.
Justice Kurada had adjourned ruling in the case till Wednesday after the prosecution and defence counsel addressed the court on the no case submission on March 31.
The lead counsel for El-Zakzaky and his wife, Femi Falana, SAN, had prayed the court to rule in favour of his clients.
The lead prosecution counsel, Mr Dari Bayero, had at the close of submission prayed the court to sentence the defendants.
However, on Wednesday, Justice Kurada ruled that the prosecution team failed to establish a prima facie case against the IMN leader and the wife.
El-Zakzaky and Zeenat had arrived at the court around 9.08am amid tight security.
And by 5pm, the court ordered the immediate release of the couple from detention.
A counsel for the Shi’ites leader, Marshal Abubakar, while briefing journalists shortly after the judgment said, “The trial of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenat Ibraheem, has come to an end today. The court has upheld our no case submission; the court found that the charges that were filed in the year 2018 pursuant to a penal law enacted by the Kaduna State Government in 2017 over offences allegedly committed in 2015 is not proper.
After the ruling, El-Zakzaky was immediately driven out of the court premises alongside his lead counsel, Falana.
Ruling victory for perseverance, says IMN
Meanwhile, the IMN hailed the judgment, which it noted had not only vindicated the movement, “but it is certainly a victory for perseverance in the face of extreme persecution by the Nigerian government.”
A statement titled, ‘Court finally dismisses, acquits Sheikh Zakzaky again,’ by the President of the Media Forum, IMN, Ibrahim Musa, declared the ruling was victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity.
It read in part, “Today, Wednesday, July 28, 2021, the Kaduna State High Court presided by Justice Gideon Kurada delivered a favourable judgment in the no case submission filed by defence lawyers in the case brought against the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenah Ibrahim, who were standing trial for sundry trumped up charges, including that of aiding and abetting culpable homicide punishable by death.
“With this victory in court today, the false charges filed against them have finally been punctured for good after almost five years of excruciating illegal detention.
“This judgment has not only vindicated them and all members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, but it is certainly a victory for perseverance in the face of extreme persecution by the Nigerian government. It is a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity.”