The Presidency, on Friday, July 19, said that the protracted protests by members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shiites, are incapable of compelling the release of their Leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari has therefore, warned the Islamic group to stop constituting public nuisance.
Recall, that El-Zakzaky was arrested and detained in December 2015, following a bloody clash between the Shiites and members of the Armed Forces, in Kaduna. He was arraigned and granted bail, which was not obeyed by the government. He has since been arraigned afresh in a Kaduna court.
His incarceration has prompted his followers to constantly engage in street protests in Abuja, unleashing mayhem on public institutions, and making life unbearable for residents.
Reacting to the trend yesterday, Presidential Spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement, asked the Shiites to desist from violent street protests, and await a court judgment in Kaduna, where El-Zakzaky is currently being tried.
According to the statement, the protests which he said were intended to insult President Muhammadu Buhari, would remain a futile exercise, because the President would not be forced to interfere in the court process.
The statement was however, swift to add that the administration of Buhari would enforce the court judgment when the matter is eventually determined, pointing out that Buhari has no hand in El-Zakzaky’s trial.
Shehu declared as unacceptable, the assumptions of members of the group, that they are above the law and consequently violating the rights of other citizens, by disrupting their businesses and blocking roads.
His words: “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.
“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.
“The mentality that you are above the law, and that your own rights are superior to other people’s rights, is unacceptable.
“You cannot be provoking other citizens, by interfering with their own rights on public roads, and disrupting their businesses, and call it democratic freedom. In democratic traditions, their rights end where the rights of others begin.”
While appealing to them to desist from violent street protests, Shehu emphasised that the matter was before the court in Kaduna, and the protesters should henceforth concentrate their attention “on his on-going trial, instead of causing daily damages, disruptions, and public nuisance in Abuja.”
He stated that it was wrong to engage in violence over a matter that is before the court of law, in anticipation of justice for the accused.
He also warned them against the continued destruction of public property, and frequent taking over of roads in Abuja, positing that no government can tolerate such menace anywhere in the world, particularly when it violates the rights of citizens.
He said that the matter involving El-Zakzaky was no longer within the purview of the Ministry of Justice, and hence, the Federal Government was not involved, and could not be accused of violating court orders.
“We imagine a situation where families are taking their loved ones to the hospital for emergency treatment, and they are held up needlessly by the protesters. No government anywhere in the world would turn a blind eye to this unlawful behavior”, Shehu concluded.