By Abdulmumin Giwa
The Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, told newsmen in New York that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is not willing to disrupt the process of inquiry initiated by the Kaduna state government and has decided to allow full process of the law prevail in the case.
He said with regards to the JCI report that the government will study the report, the Attorney General will look at the report and whatever measure needs to be taken would be taken.
He made the statement in response to a question from newsmen as to the continued detention of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
To preempt this write-up, the Mr Oyeama actually made an empty statement and the newsmen on their part made news of it because he actually had nothing to say.
The revered leader of the IMN was abducted and illegally detained without charges for over nine months now in contravention with the Nigerian constitution and violation of the Sheikh’s fundamental human rights.
Hence his illegal detention has nothing to do with the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI). He is not being detained by the JCI nor is his detention ordered to be continued by it. In fact the JCI had to extend its period of sitting to seek ways for the Sheikh Zakzaky’s legal team to meet with him in detention. In fact the JCI was even inaugurated while the Sheikh was already in detention.
More so, the issue of his detention was not discussed by the JCI during its sessions nor did it bother to make any issue of it. Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is being detained by the presidency under the Department of State Service (DSS) and not by the JCI.
The DSS and the Attorney General of the Federation are respondents in a case at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking to enforce the fundamental human rights of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and the payment of N2 billion as general damages.
The DSS even told the court that the revered Sheikh was under ‘protective custody’ and with his consent after refusing to allow his lawyers to receive regular briefs from him. They also told the court that they have spent a whopping N5.1 million taking care of him.
The DSS told this to the court to dismiss the saying that the revered leader is being detained illegally without any charges. If his detention had anything to do with the JCI, the DSS would have told that to the court. But it didn’t because his detention had nothing to do with the JCI.
More so, the JCI never summoned Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky before it nor demanded for any memo to be submitted by him even as it had the powers to summon him and he is with the DSS. It is also the same with others arrested at the scene of the massacre that are in the Kaduna Prison facing cropped up charges including killing one soldier where the soldiers killed over 1000 of them and none of the soldiers was arrested or detained.
From the news piece reporting the minister’s statement it would be seen that it was only one question that the minister was asked and he deviated from the question and occupied the space with a relative empty answer. If he had been asked a second question as to whether the JCI had anything to do with the detention of the IMN leader, the Minister would have fumbled but he successfully carried along the journalist by giving him something to write about.
It would be recalled again that the Nigerian President himself used the JCI as his defense when asked on the same issue during his maiden media chat. He accused the IMN of running a government within a government and also defended the extra-judicial actions of the soldiers. He stated that he would not want to preempt the JCI so they would wait for its report.
So the minister using the same defense line tells you that they are only using the JCI as a joker before they are able to devise a way out of the mess.
The JCI was inaugurated and the commissioners were sworn-in, they went through the sessions and came out with a report without a statement to be accredited to Sheikh Zakzaky or the IMN, the JCI also made its recommendations as well. The state government also inaugurated another committee to produce a whitepaper from the report and the committee was given two weeks to finish its work. The public is yet to hear any committee being set up by the Attorney General to study or review the report but Mr Onyeama claimed that it was being studied.
In the report, which was later made public, the Nigerian Army was indicted and their action in Zaria was declared by the JCI as a massacre. It also called the Army as to need to respect its rules of engagement. But there wasn’t any serious indictment of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky except for the accusation that though he was not on the scene of the incident he was the leader of the Movement and did not call his followers to order when they blocked the Chief of Army Staff which of course is a stupid accusation by the context of the Nigerian constitution. Do they have any evidence whatsoever that he was the one that ordered the COAS to be blocked? Why then should he be accused of not stopping them from blocking the COAS? So is a stupid accusation.
However, those soldiers who were seriously indicted by the JCI are walking the streets free, none of them has been ordered to be arrested and detained while the Sheikh who had virtually no indictment against him is in detention. This further clarifies that the JCI report has nothing to do with arrests and detentions nor does its submissions influence any.
More so, whosoever is indicted by the JCI is only recommended to be prosecuted by a proper court of law which would require further investigations and evidences. In essence it has no link with the illegal detention of the leader of the IMN.
Buhari’s regime is deceiving Nigerians on the issue of the detention of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, it had messed up and killed innocent unarmed civilians and is seeking for a way out of the mess, simple.
In his position as the Foreign Minister, Mr Onyeama was only doing his job of protecting the already shattered human rights image of the government and he would have to do it even if it would take ‘an executive lie’ to achieve. So the minister was only doing his job of helping deceive the public.
And do not even be surprised that it was organized for him to be asked that question while he gives the defensive answer to block any further issue to be raised on that matter while the president was there. It is very possible by the nature of the question and the answer.
It should be recalled that there are calls on the United States by some congressmen against the Nigerian government to stop further sales of arms to the Nigerian government sighting the killings and mass burial of 347 Shiites in Zaria as one of their several reasons.
Even the way the minister answered the question was apologetic and defensive trying to show a good image of the government which has already been condemned by highly reputable international human rights organizations in the world. The Zaria massacre has dented the human rights image of the Nigerian government in the international scene and the government is battling to defend itself and present the opposite.
So definitely the minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama was only doing his job to get a good meal on the table.
By Abdulmumin Giwa