THE Presidency on Friday absolved President Muhammadu Buhari of any blame about the continued detention of the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the presidency argued that El-Zakzaky is standing trial in Kaduna, noting that government at “the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violations of court orders being trumpeted everyday.
“As far as this country’s Ministry of Justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain,” Shehu said in the statement.
“The Federal Government no more has hands in the matter and to that extent, the government at the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violations of court orders as being trumpeted everyday.”
This was members of IMN on Friday continued their protests in Abuja, defying a police order restricting civil protests in the Federal Capital City to the Unity Fountain in the central business district of the city.
Their leader, El-Zakzaky is facing trial in Kaduna arising from the clash between his followers and Nigerian soldiers in Zaria in December 2015, during which hundreds of the Shiites were reported killed.
Despite several court orders for his release on bail, he is still being kept in the custody of the State Security Service, to the anger of his followers who have been staging regular protests in Abuja.
The Presidency in the statement further cautioned Shiite members to desist from needless violent street protests and await the decision of the court in Kaduna where their leader is currently being tried.
It insisted that the issue of El-ZakZaky is before the court in Kaduna and his supporters should focus on his on-going trial instead of causing daily damages, disruptions and public nuisance in Abuja.
“It is wrong to be in court and resort to violence at the same time in order to get justice for anybody accused,” it said.
“The destruction of public property in the name of protest is not within the right of this group of Shiite members and no government anywhere would have tolerated a situation where any group would take over public roads in cities as they have done in Abuja and interfere with the rights of other citizens who are prevented from reaching their destinations.”
Speaking on the recent face-off between Shiite members and policemen at the National Assembly complex, the presidency noted that “it is not within the rights of any group to enter protected public institutions such as the National Assembly by force to attack police and destroy public and private property.”
While advising members of the movement to embrace dialogue and eschew violence, it appealed to them to stop deliberate provocations that result in violence and fatalities and allow the trial of El-ZakZaky to take its course.