By Temitope Owotoki
The Department of State Services (DSS) has released Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and his wife, following the order of a Kaduna High Court.
The court on Monday ruled that the cleric and his wife be allowed to travel to India for medical attention.
Peter Afunawa, the Public Relations Officer of DSS, in a statement in Abuja, Monday night, confirmed the release of El-Zakzaky and his wife from custody.
The couple, who were not in court when the ruling was made, has been in detention since 2015, following a bloody clash between members of IMN and the military that left scores of his members dead.
Protests organised by his members to pressure government to release him recently turned bloody, with scores of his members as well as senior police office and a reporter with Channels Television killed.
Two weeks ago, government obtained a court order, which designated the IMN as a terrorist organisation and banned its operations.
At the resumed hearing of the bail application filed by El-Zakzaky’s lawyers, yesterday, the presiding judge, Justice Dairus Khobo, granted the defence counsel’s request for the defendants to proceed to India to seek medical attention.
The court also ruled that El-Zakzaky and his wife be accompanied on the trip by DSS personnel and officials of the state.
During hearing, area close to the high court permises was cordoned off, with police personnel and those of civil defence corps taking strategic positions, while traffic was diverted on some routes. Only lawyers were allowed into the court premises. S
The IMN described the ruling of the court a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity.
In a statement signed by the Chairman, Free El-Zakzaky Campaign Committee, Abdurrahman Yola, the group said the ruling by the court represented “victory for our dogged determination, patience, and perseverance in the face of extreme persecution.”
The statement read in part: ‘’With this recent ruling by the court today (yesterday), we will finalise urgent plans to transfer them to a more appropriate foreign health facility for further expert management as we await the response of the Nigerian government.
‘’We expect them to act urgently to respect the Nigerian constitution and the ruling of this honourable court to grant the duo instant permit to travel for their treatment.
“As a peaceful movement, we have kept to our clean tradition of keeping faith with due process in seeking redress through peaceful means without any resort to violence, despite deliberate and persistent provocations by the government.”
“We wish to use this opportunity to also say a big thank you to all people of conscience, particularly some very senior citizens, diplomats, human rights activists and organizations, journalists and the general public who doggedly stood by us in the campaign for justice for the victims of Zaria genocide.”