A Kaduna State High Court has discharged and acquitted the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
In a judgement that lasted several hours, the presiding judge, Justice Gideon Kurada upheld the no-case submission filed by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife through their counsel.
Sheikh El-Zakzaky was accused of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace by the Kaduna State government.
The judge in his ruling held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants.
El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat Ibrahim have been standing trial for the past four years on an eight-count charge of alleged culpable homicide, disruption of public peace and unlawful Assembly among others levelled against them by the Kaduna State government.
Their lead counsel Mr Femi Falana (SAN), had on July 1, argued that all the 15 witnesses presented by the prosecution counsel were unable to establish any connection between the alleged crimes and Sheikh El-Zakzaky and his wife.
Falana then prayed the court to rule in favour of his clients and dismiss the charges levelled against them, as there was no criminal case that has been established against them so far by the Kaduna State government.
At the resumed judgement, yesterday, Justice Kurada ruled in favour of the defendants in the no-case submission.
Counsel to the defendants, Marshal Abubakar who represented the lead counsel to the case, Femi Falana SAN, told reporters shortly after the trial ended in Kaduna, that the trial of the cleric and his wife has come to an end.
According to him, “The trial of Sheik El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat has come to end as the court found them not guilty of the alleged crime filed against them by the Kaduna State government.”
He said the court found that the charges that were filed in 2018 pursuant to the penal law enacted by the state government in 2017 over an alleged offence committed in 2015 was not tenable.
“The court presided by Justice Gideon Kurada, ruled that the charge was not supposed to be filed in the first place, as the government cannot arraign someone for a crime that was not an offence at the time.
“The court ruled that the charge was incompetent as the court agreed that El-Zakzaky and his wife had committed no offence.
“The court also ruled that the event of Dec.12 and 15, 2015 was not an offence and the court was emphatic that none of the events in Dec. 12, 2015 can be attributed to the defendants for an offence.
“The court, thereby, discharged and acquitted the defendants as there should have been no charge in the first place. No party asked for a fine,” he said.
On his part, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mr Dari Bayero, the lead prosecution team, declined to comment on the ruling.
It would be recalled that Sheikh El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat were arrested on Dec 12, 2015 and have been under custody till yesterday when they were discharged and acquitted of the charges levelled against them.
Meanwhile, the IMN leader was whisked out of the court in the same vehicle with his Lead Counsel, Femi Falana (SAN) after the judgement that lasted for close to eight hours.
Though, El-Zakzaky and his wife could not be accessed for interview by journalists, the IMN in a statement reacting to the judgement said the ruling has proven that the Islamic Movement and its leader, are only victims of ‘impunity and mischievous plots’ by both the federal and Kaduna State governments.
The statement signed by the IMN Media Forum president, Ibrahim Musa said, “We give praises to the Almighty for yet another successful outing, which further proves to the world that the Islamic Movement and its leader, are only victims of impunity and mischievous plots by both the Buhari-led federal government and the El-Rufai-led Kaduna State government. Since both governments have again failed in court after a fair trial.
“We expect them to respect the judgement of this honourable court and the course of justice to release them with immediate effect.”
Information gathered from Zaria is that of missed feelings, while some expressed happiness over the development, others felt otherwise.