Audi Alteram Partem and Nemo Judex In Sua Causa

By Abdulmumin Giwa

In a swift reaction while responding to newsmen seeking clarification from the presidency as to whether President Muhammadu Buhari was the one holding the revered leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria IMN, His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky in detention, the Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu dismissed the claim as lacking commonsense.

This led to a statement by the IMN through the office of the President of the Media Forum of the Movement Ibrahim Musa enumerating the role of the president in the entire incident that led to the mass murder of over 1000 unarmed members of IMN on 12th to 14th of December 2015.

The statement called on the Presidential spokesman to have a rethink and a check of reality. It also added that denial of any presidential role in the massacre does no good to the presidency.

For if the president truly had no hand in it he would not have for the last nine months failed to take any action against those who violated the constitution of Nigeria with impunity and also usurped his constitutional powers.

The statement in addition also debunked the claims of Shehu that the matter was an entirely Kaduna state matter for which pointing any accusing fingers on the president does not tally with commonsense. The statement said the President had since given himself away when he declared to the nation during his maiden media chart that the reason why they clampdown on the IMN was that it was running a state within a state and that he saw a video of IMN members beating the chest of an Army General all in order to convince the nation on why he ordered the attack.

Hence for the presidential spokesman to turn around today and exonerate the president on what he had publicly committed himself on says a lot about how guilty he really is.

The deliberate silence on the matter by the President, the deaf ears he turned on calls for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky from illegal detention by individuals and human rights groups from both home and abroad, the illegal detention without trial of the IMN leader and his wife who are kept incommunicado by the government, exoneration of the army in the matter even after mischievously calling the matter a clash instead of an attack, the attempt at hiding the killings by both the government and the Army through mass burying those murdered and claiming they killed only seven, the charging to court of about 200 IMN members with cropped-up charges including killing one soldier while the soldiers that killed and mass buried 347 are left free and many more has rendered the response of the presidential spokesperson parallel to commonsense as against what he claimed.

It is in response to these facts raised by the IMN that the presidency had no choice but to look for a way to manage itself out of the embarrassment and promote its already tarnished human right image hence the recent statement by the presidency on the matter.

Following pressure from concerned quarters, the president is now forced to respond by assuring human rights groups of appropriate response as made public by the Presidential spokesperson Garba Shehu in a recent statement made available to public.

The statement claimed that the president’s commitment to human rights remains unchanged and that he is studying the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry JCI set up by the Kaduna state government to make appropriate response.

It is clear that the presidency is being forced to respond not because it is interested in doing justice to the matter but because it is losing every bit of its human rights image everyday by the continued detention of the leader of the IMN and his deliberate denial of right to good health.

The detention of the IMN leader Sheikh Zakzaky is in contravention of the Nigerian constitution and therefore illegal but the presidency still chooses to be silent about it despite the calls by people and groups of conscience across the globe. Yet deceptively the presidency is claiming to be protecting human rights as a cardinal of democracy.

The first step to prove that the presidency has any regards for human rights is for the IMN leader to be released unconditionally on health grounds. If not, what human rights does the government respect when it can detain a sick person and his wife without any charges for nine months in total contravention of the constitution and had remained deaf to calls by individuals and human rights groups across the globe calling for his release? Who is deceiving who?

More so, the IMN was forced to stay away from the JCI by the government during the inquiry, when it refused to hear from those arrested and detained as well as the prime victim of the massacre Sheikh ibraheem Zakzaky who was kept incommunicado and his lawyers refused access to him.

The same JCI went on with its one-sided inquiry into the massacre and was forced by events to call the incident a massacre, to indict the Army, to reveal the mass grave and also to turn the GOC 1 Division of the Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade into a sacrificial lamb. At the same time the JCI over-looked the roles of the President, the Chief of Army Staff and the Kaduna state Governor in the massacre.

Finally the JCI produced a report that contradicted its recommendations and unfairly and unjustly indicted innocent persons of unsubstantiated accusations including the leader of the IMN who they  accused of not stopping is followers from blocking the COAS entourage, claiming that he was responsible for the deaths of all those killed by the Army in 48 hours. What manner of justice.

It is this same report produced by a judicial commission of inquiry in which all parties to the incident being inquired are represented except the direct victims and independent human rights organizations that the presidency now wants to study to make its statement after 9 months.

Well, it suffices to refer the Presidency to in the language of legal practitioners as regard the principle of natural justice that “Audi Altarem Partem” that nobody should be tried unheard as done to Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and “Nemo Judex In Sua Causa” that nobody should be a judge in their own case or objectivity and neutrality of a trial judge as the government is now doing.

Hence, the presidential spokesman should note that the world is watching and whatever decisions the presidency takes today concerning the Zaria massacre will most definitely reflect tomorrow in what explanations they will give to the ICC in The Hague.

What is even more is the answers they prepare to present before the Almighty Allah in the hereafter as their reasons for massacring innocent unarmed women, both pregnant and young girls, men, the aged and children in Zaria in December 2015. Certainly on that day there would be no spokesman, no JCI, no government sponsored clerics, no APC, no President, no COAS, no Governor and everyone would account for his own individual role at every step and every level of everything that concerns the massacre.

Meanwhile, the IMN shall continue with its quest for justice as ever before through peaceful means hoping that the same impunity with which its leader is fellow members are being held would not prevail over the decisions of the judges in the cases between it and all the parties concerned.



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