By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
The European Union (EU) Heads of Mission have expressed reservations over the continued detention of the leader of the Shitee group, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, by Federal Government in spite of court order for his release.
EU demands immediate release of El-Zakzaky
A Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier ordered the immediate release of El-Zakzaky’s from the custody of security forces.
The mission, in a statement in Abuja, urged the Nigerian authorities to ensure Zakzaky is released in accordance with the ruling of the court or is charged formally in accordance with Nigerian law.
The statement reads: “The EU Heads of Mission note that the decision by a Federal High Court in Abuja ordering Mr. Ibrahim El-Zakzaky’s immediate release from custody by the State Security Service has not been enforced.
“The EU underlines the universality of fundamental human rights, which includes the right to a fair trial and freedom from arbitrary detention. We find it worrying that Mr. Zakzaky has been detained for more than a year without having been brought to Justice.
“We therefore urge the Nigerian authorities to ensure Mr. Zakzaky is released in accordance with the ruling of the court or is charged formally in accordance with Nigerian law and faces an impartial and balanced trial without further delay.
“We encourage transparency and believe it is important that the findings made by all past or ongoing investigations into the violence that occurred in Zaria in December 2015 are published.
“The EU Heads of Mission are of the view that all those responsible for the violence must be prosecuted according to the law and that anyone found guilty must be sentenced accordingly.
“The right to peaceful assembly and association, as well as the right to free speech is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. The EU Heads of Mission also remind Nigeria that it is essential to promote religious tolerance and respect religious rights.
“The EU Heads of Mission will continue to follow the judicial situation of Mr. Zakzaky and his wife closely.”