The federal government has washed its hands off the ongoing trial of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
The presidency also warned the group to desist from violent protests.
In a statement on Friday by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, the presidency urged the Shiite members to allow the court decide the fate of their leader.
Members of the sect have been aggressively protesting the continued detention of El-Zakzaky. Shiites had also decried the deteriorating health condition of their leader and his wife.
A Kaduna State High Court is currently hearing an application for permission to travel to India for medical attention, filed by El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zinat.
The presidency in its statement, asked IMN members not to trample on the rights of others, saying the government would no longer allow the sect to take law into its hands.
“The presidency appeals to El-Zakzaky-led 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,” Shehu said.
“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. The destruction of public property in the name of protest is not within the rights 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.
“As far as this country’s ministry of justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain. 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 every day.”
The federal government urged the Shiites to embrace dialogue instead of resorting to violence.
“These rallies and street dances ostensibly to openly insult the President and other leaders, threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere because President Buhari will not ask the country’s judiciary to abandon due process and set a suspect free,” he said.
“At the same time, the administration is determined to enforce the decision of the court clearly issued. The Buhari administration has absolutely no hand in the on-going court case and the courts are free to determine the bail request and the final outcome.
“It is always advisable to embrace dialogue and eschew violence in all our actions so that we can continue to live together in peace. We therefore appeal to the Shiite group to stop deliberate provocations that result in violence and fatalities and allow the trial of El-ZakZaky to take its course.”
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