The Presidency yesterday said the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, is still being detained for public interest and security implications.
The government said it was keeping the IMN leader in line with its obligations as enshrined in Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution.
But it, the government added that the spiritual leader’s wife, Malama Zeenatu Ibraheem, was free to go home because she had no case to answer.
A top Presidency source spoke in an interview with reporters in Abuja against the backdrop of pressure on the government to obey court orders on the release of El-Zakzaky.
The official, who craved anonymity, said the “major constitutional policy objective of government as stated in section 14 (2) (b) is public and not individual security”.
The source said: “The issue of the release of Zakzaky is not exclusively legal. It has security and public interest as against individual interest undertones.
“Public interest and national security implications must be factored into consideration in line with international practices that conventionally place national security and public interest above any other individual claim of right.
“The Federal Government is looking into the case with the public and security interest dimensions being put into consideration.”
The source, however, said the wife of El-Zakzaky was free to go home because she has never had a case to answer.
The source claimed the IMN leader’s wife was “not of any security interest and therefore was merely keeping her husband company in the apartment in which he is kept”.
The source added: “She is not under detention. If it is her wish, that of her husband or of the IMN, she will be allowed to go home in a matter of hours.
“El-Zakzaky’s spouse was picked up by the Department of Security Service (DSS) beside her husband with bullet wounds following IMN’s encounter with the army.
“They took her along with the husband, treated her wounds and allowed her to care for her husband.
“Upon his request on an occasion, the children joined them during Ramadan. That is what happened.”
The IMN, on Wednesday, made seven demands for the release of El Zakzaky.
At a briefing, Sheikh Abdulhamid Bello, head of the Shuhadah (Martyrs) Foundation, IMN, tabled the demands, among others:
“We demand and insist that the Federal government unconditionally and in accordance with the procedures laid down in the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered on December 2, 2016.
“The Federal Government and its agencies must obey the orders of the Federal High Court Abuja, as they have a responsibility to show good example to the people of Nigeria as a regime that believes in the rule of law and due process. Serial disobedience to court orders and contempt for the fundamental rights of citizens to freedom of religion does not portray our country as one that is ready to manage its religious diversity in a way that strengthens the federation.
“The IMN demands that the government desists from trying to infiltrate the movement using fifth columnists and agent provocateurs. The IMN does not believe in violence or the use of violence to achieve its objectives.
“The Federal Government and the Kaduna State government have been and continue to engage in provocative acts aimed at inciting the movement to take to the path of violence in vain. The IMN assures the Nigerian public that any act of violence attributed to it can only emanate from agent provocateurs being injected into the movement by state agents.
“The IMN thanks the human rights community and professional groups and organisations for their support in this matter thus far and urges them to persuade the government to release our leader and his wife and withdraw all trumped up charges against members of our movement.
”We urge the international community to persuade the government to obey the orders of court and to release our leader unconditionally.
“We also appeal to the international community to commit Nigeria to upholding religious rights and freedoms, failing which the Nigerian government and its agents be isolated and sanctioned.
“We appeal to all Nigerians to prevail on the government to release our leader to seek medical attention to the challenges of his sight.” (The Nation)