A lawyer of Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky says the Nigerian government is seeking to file a new lawsuit against the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria as part of attempts to prevent him from leaving the country for medical treatment.
“We have news that the Nigerian government is planning to file a lawsuit against Sheikh Zakzaky and submit it to a higher court in Nigeria, which means that it wants to file a new lawsuit against Sheikh,” Ishaq Adam, a member of Sheikh Zakzaky's defense team, told the Islam Times news website.
Asked whether the new lawsuit has reached the court, Adam said, "No, so far we have not received this complaint, not even the judge of the Supreme Court, and this issue has only been published in the Nigerian news circles and media."
The lawyer elaborated on the aim of the lawsuit and said the Nigerian government wanted to “continue the trial of Sheikh Zakzaky or re-arrest him.”
“If they cannot find an excuse to arrest him, with the re-establishment of the court against Sheikh, they will prevent him from leaving Nigeria and traveling to another country for treatment, so their main purpose is to prevent the sheikh from leaving,” Adam added.
The lawyer dismissed concerns about blocking Sheikh Zakzaky’s release, saying, “We are not afraid of this action of the Nigerian government if the court is re-established, this court will not deprive him of his freedom, but this new complaint and charges will only lead to visits to the court.”
Femi Falana, a prominent Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, also revealed last week that the Kaduna state government had hastily filed a new charge against Zakzaky and his wife in a desperate move to block their release.
On July 28, the high court in Nigeria’s central state of Kaduna acquitted Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, Mallimah Zeenat, of all the charges brought against them back in 2015 and ordered them released.
The trial originally commenced on May 15, 2018, but dragged on for over three years, when the high court — presided by Judge Gideon Kurada — eventually issued its final verdict.
In December 2015, Nigeria’s military launched a crackdown as part of a deadly state-ordered escalation targeting the movement that Abuja has branded as illegal.
The campaign saw the troops attacking Zakzaky’s residence in the town of Zaria in Kaduna, afflicting him and his wife with serious injuries that reportedly caused the cleric to lose his left eye.
During the crackdown, the military also attacked the movement’s members as they were holding religious processions, with the government alleging that the Muslims had blocked a convoy of the country’s defense minister.
The violence led to the death of three of Zakzaky’s sons and more than 300 of his followers.