From Jibrin Miachi, Kaduna
Kaduna State, the political headquarters of Northern Nigeria was yesterday grounded to a halt following perceived security threats to life and property occasioned by the trial of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shi’ite.
The state Police Command had on Tuesday announced the court trial of El-Zakzaky scheduled for yesterday and therefore, advised people to be mindful of their security as they go about their lawful businesses, to avoid falling prey of ugly development.
A Police press release to this effect signed by the command’s public relations officer, DSP Mukhtar H. Aliyu, reminded that “ban on procession/demonstrations in Kaduna State is still in force” and threatened a showdown with any person or group that attempt to violate the ban.
Although there was no order restricting movement, the police, however, announced traffic diversion in some areas, a development which forced a number of people who were compelled to be out, to trek their ways.
Fierce looking armed policemen were seen manning strategic routes in the state capital. With this development, most people who came out as early as 6am for one business or the other, rushed back home with awful tales which kept others indoor thereby grounding social and commercial activities to a halt.
The fear entertained by the people and of course, the security arrangement put in place by the state police command was not unconnected with their last experience when the leader of IMN was brought to court and violence ensued between the police and his followers with a police officer killed.
As at the time of filing this report, there was no reported cases of unhealthy development as unlike the past, Shi’ite members stayed off the trial which lasted about two hours. However, the tension that built up from Tuesday night was yet to douse down.
Meanwhile the case has been adjourned to 2nd August, 2018. Speaking to journalists, the Defence counsel to El-Zakzaky, Barr Maxwell Kyon, said “the case has been adjourned to August 2 for further mention”, pointing out that “as at today the other two defendants that are listed on the charge are still yet to be served” consequently, “the prosecution simply asked for another date to intensify efforts to serve them.
“We had also filed a bail application that we had hoped will be looked into today, but unfortunately it was sometime yesterday very late that we were served with the response to that bail application. We also asked for a short date to enable us respond to the counter affidavit that was served by the state. So what the court did today was to simply adjourn the matter to the 2nd of August”.
Barr Kyon, however, refused to mention the name of the other accused persons who are the 3rd and 4th defendants, “saying they are not necessarily part of the matter until they are served”.
Speaking further, he said “in a criminal matter, you cannot proceed until all the accused are served. That is part of the reasons why we have not been able to make much progress all the while and since the matter was instituted, the third and fourth defendants have not been served.
“The bail application could not be taken today because not withstanding that we filled a bail application over a month ago, the state only responded yesterday evening, so we asked for a short time to respond”.
On the health of El-Zakzaky and his wife, he said, “the situation is very apparent. Sometimes in January he suffered a mild stroke. You are aware of that. Also, you are aware that his eyes are failing him and his health is also failing.
“Also, the wife was shot during the incident in Zaria. So, in terms of their health I can tell you, coupled with their age, when you put all these together you will know that their health cannot be said to be okay. It is part of the issues we are asking for bail.
“But the fact is that we have put all the facts together before the court upon which we believe the court should grant him bail. We have seen the response that was filled by the State. We intend to respond by way of further affidavit to the counter affidavit as per the correct facts as it affects their health and others that the court should take into consideration that use their discretion”.
Reacting to the banning of journalists, Barr Maxwell Kyon remarked that “actually, every member of the society that is interested in a case should be given the opportunity to sit in the court room and sit through the proceedings.
“Once that privilege is removed, you begin to think whether certain questions of whether there is fair trial begin to arise, therefore, “opportunity should be created for people to come to the courts because the idea of justice is not only to be done, but must be seen to be done,” he argued.