The Presidential Investigation Panel looking at cases of human rights abuses by the Nigerian Army has set yet another date, Wednesday, 8th November, 2017 for possible taking of evidence from the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
This was communicated to the legal team verbally when the later made inquiries into possible date the case will come up seeing that initial dates earlier scheduled was fast ending without the case being listed for hearing.
The case earlier scheduled to be heard between 30th October and 3rd November could not be listed among the cases to be heard by the Panel because it didn’t get a response to its request to the DSS seeking to allow Sheikh Zakzaky to make an appearance before the Panel. Similarly, the legal team of the IMN had requested to see their client, Sheikh Zakzaky before making any appearance, and that request too was not replied to by the DSS, the government agency contemptuously holding the Sheikh.
It will be recalled that the Panel shifted the taking of evidence from Sheikh Zakzaky and IMN from Kaduna to Abuja partly because it wanted to possibly have access to the Sheikh, insisting that his evidence would be taken in camera. The legal team however insisted that they will not make any appearance in camera except if the Sheikh directs otherwise. They therefore insisted that they must be allowed to debrief the Sheikh adequately and that has not been allowed. Already the IMN, human rights bodies and other activists have variously criticised secret hearing in the matter, describing it as a way to cover evidence against the military.
In another development, the Investigation Panel has cried bitterly over what they said was IMN description of it as “Kangaroo court” on social media. The complain was made following a vigorous campaign by the media forum of IMN, Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee and others particularly in opposition to secret hearing.
Doubts and concerns cast on the Panel
about its independence by the the IMN appears to have been right after all especially with the panel unable to be given immediate access to a victim who has submitted a memo to it. Furthermore, the selective nature of its hearing that appears to exclude journalists and rights groups makes it look as if the initial purpose of the Panel is merely launder the battered image of the Nigerian army.
The IMN had pointed out its concerns about the purpose and composition of the Presidential Panel through a letter sent to the President and published in paid advertisements. Other areas of concern expressed by IMN in that letter include the possible exclusion of those being detained who may not be allowed to make their own submission and the traditional recalcitrant attitude and lack of cooperation of the military in previous attempts at investigating their crimes, all of which are now playing out.
In yet another development, the Panel has indicated that it will serve the IMN notice of a petition written against it by one Muhammad Ali. We first reported this when he was spotted in Kaduna at the Panel’s sitting then being urged by top Military officers to hurriedly present a memo.
Muhammad Ali and his phantom organization was the main consultant given the contract of demonizing the IMN, especially during the sitting of the Kaduna State Judicial Commission of Inquiry in Kaduna last year. It remains to be seen how that fits into looking into human rights abuses by the military.
We will continue to update you with any development in this regard as it happens. Keep a date with us.
*© #FreeZakzaky Campaign Committee, November 2017*