From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
BARELY 48 hours after the Judicial Commission of Inquiry investigating the December 2015 Zaria clash between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) known as the Shi’ites, and the Nigerian Army, the Shi’ites said the exercise would be a fruitless exercise without their lawyers having access to their leader, Sheik Ibraheem Zakzaky, before submitting a memorandum to the commission.
The commission had on Monday, adjourned again for the fifth time till March 21, to enable counsel to the IMN get access to Zakzaky.
Chairman of the commission, Justice Muhammadu Lawal Garba said the commission was running out of six weeks allotted to it by the Kaduna State Government and has little or no time to wait for the Shi’ites.
However, in a statement issued yesterday by its spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, IMN said: “We find this directive perplexing. What will our lawyers submit to the commission if our leader is denied his fundamental human right of access to his lawyers for proper and professional briefing?
“We advise the commission not to engage in a fruitless exercise if it cannot secure access to the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. The Nigerian people should note that the leader of the movement and the wife are held in solitary confinement and have not been charged with any offence since they were wounded on December 12 and 13.
“If the public is not allowed to hear his own side of the story, whose story will do justice to the terms of reference, given to the commission?
“We find it strange that the commission that is aware that the military and the Department of State Services (DSS) are holding the leader, spokesperson and custodian of the property of the movement will go ahead to issue such an order.
“We thought the commission will insist that the security agencies should obey its order and grant access to the lawyers of the movement to see him. What impact will the commission make if its orders are not obeyed by the security services? We are of the view that the commission must establish its independence by enforcing its order and directive rather than threatening to go ahead with its supposed assignment when the leader of one of the parties and his wife are held in solitary confinement.
“We urge all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to release the leader of our movement to enable him tell the Nigerian people and the world the atrocities committed by the Nigerian military.”