Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) leader Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat got freedom on Wednesday.
Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna State High Court discharged and acquitted them of culpable homicide, and unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges for which they have been standing trial since December 2018.
The IMN (also known as Shi’ite) leader was arrested following a clash between his followers and the convoy of the immediate-past Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai in Zaria in December 2015.
The court had fixed Wednesday for ruling in the no-case submission filed by Sheikh El-Zakzaky.
Justice Kurada fixed the date after the prosecution and counsel to the defendants had addressed the court on the no-case submission prayer.
Reporters were not allowed into the courtroom, but the Shi’ite leader’s counsel, Marshal Abubakar, spoke after the judgment.
He said the court upheld their no-case submission and agreed that the case preferred against the Islamic cleric lacked merit.
Abubakar said: “The trial of Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenat Ibraheem has come to an end today (yesterday). The court has upheld our no-case submission. the court found that the charges that were filed in 2018 pursuant to a penal law enacted by the Kaduna State government in 2017 over offenses allegedly committed in 2015 is ab-initio.
“The court ruled that the charge ought not to be in the first place because you cannot arraign a man for an offense that was already committed as at the time the said crime was not an offense. And the court was very emphatic on that.
“Yes, the Kaduna State government has powers to enact laws, but they cannot enact a law to prosecute an offense prospectively. That is the first ground on which the court held that that charge was incompetent.
“On another footing, the no-case submission we filed in court. The court agreed with us that the trial lacked merits. That, the prosecution only came to court to tell stories that are at cross variance with the offenses that were alleged in the charges. The court agreed with us that, El-Zakzaky and his wife have committed no offense.
“The court however discharged and acquitted El-Zakzaky and his wife. It said there should not have been any charge against El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat in the first place.”
The IMN leader was whisked out of the court in the same vehicle with his lead counsel, Femi Falana (SAN) after the judgment that lasted for close to eight hours.
Neither El-Zakzaky nor his spouse could be reached on Wednesday. But, in a statement, the IMN said the ruling has proven that the organization and its leader “are only victims of ‘impunity and mischievous plots by both the federal and Kaduna governments.
In a statement by its Media Forum President, Ibrahim Musa, the IMN said: “We give praises to the Almighty for yet another successful outing, which further proves to the world that the Islamic movement and its leader are only victims of impunity. Both governments have again failed in court after a fair trial.
“We expect them to respect the judgment of this honorable court and the course of justice to release them with immediate effect.”