Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Kaduna State High Court presided over by Justice Gideon Kurada on Monday, fixed April 23 and 24th, 2020 for the trial of leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as ‘Shi’ites,’ Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
Earlier, one of the Counsels for defendants, Marshal Abubakar, informed the court that the couple were declined medical attention in the custody of the correctional services.
The development prompted the trial judge to summoned the Controller of the Kaduna Correctional Centre to appear before it and stood down court proceedings for more than 2 hours.
Abubakar further told journalists shortly after court proceedings that the trial of his clients were again being frustrated by the state by not allowing the defendants access to their medical doctors as ordered by the court.
Abubakar said: “The matter was billed for today(Monday) for trial. The Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Mallama Zeenat Ibraheem wrr suppose to take their plea today and charges filed by the state against the couple over the incidents that occurred on Tue 12th and 13th December, 2015.
“As at the last dates, the state had informed the court that they intend to call their witnesses today but unfortunately, the trial was stalled by the state once again.
“On the last adjoining date, being February 6, 2020, the court had ordered that the defendants should be allowed access to medical care to be provided by their(defendants) medical practitioners in conjunction with the medical doctors nominated by the State Ministry of Justice and the prisons authorities, but unfortunately, it was brought to the court’s attention that that order was frustrated by the state – the Kaduna government and the prisons authorities who had refused to allow doctors of El-Zakzaky and his wife access to them for medical examination.”
Also, Counsel for the state and Director of Public Prosecution, Dari Bayero told journalists that all “grey areas” had been resolved as the court had ordered that the couple be allowed access to their medical doctors.
Bayero said, “There were some issues that arose in court. But all gray areas have been sorted out and the judge had given order that the personal physicians to the defendants be allowed access to them.
“Even of they want to go for scanning in any hospital, The Correctional Centre should provide security for them to be taken anywhere.
“The court had adjourned the matter to April 23 and 24, 2020 so that all the issues raised would have been to have been done for the trial to commence.”
When asked why a plea had not been taken, Bayero said:”The court said it can only trial a sane and healthy defendants
“Since there are issues raised about their health, the court had adjourned so that they go and get better to access their personal physician, access medical are they want.
“The Controller(Correctional Facility) to court and all the issues relating to access to medical care had been ironed out.”
Against this background, Justice Kurada adjourned the case to April 23 and 24, 2020 for the trial to commence.
Meanwhile, the trial was being held under tight security as all roads leading to the court along Independence way; Ibrahim Taiwo Road as well as Bida Road within the metropolis, were barricaded by security operatives.
Recall that the IMN leader and his wife were standing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of the public peace, among other charges, following the Nigerian Army and the Shi’ites clash in December 2015 in Zaria.
The High Court had on December 5, 2019 ordered the Department of State Services to transfer the Shi’ite leader and his wife, to the Nigerian Correctional Centre in Kaduna and to allow his lawyers access to him(El-Zakzaky).
The Presiding Judge order was a sequel to the application by one of the defendant’s lawyers , Haruna Magashi on December 5, 2019 at the resumed hearing in Kaduna, which was eight months after the last hearing on March 24, 2019.
Justice Kurada had also on March 24, 2019 adjourned the trial of the IMN leader indefinitely to enable him serve on the panel of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal, in Yobe state.