The Presidency says Sheik Ibrahim El-Zak Zaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMAN), is being kept by government in the public interest and not being detained in prison as speculated.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this while reacting to questions on the Human Rights’ record of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said, “On the issue of El-Zak Zaky, the information we have is that he is being kept more for his own safety that the offences he committed.
“If you set him free today, what do you think will likely be the reactions out there on the streets of Kaduna or in the streets of Zazzau where he comes from.’’
Shehu, alongside other presidential media aides, Mr Femi Adesina and Mr Laolu Akande, addressed State House correspondents on the achievements of the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government at a midterm media chat.
The media chat was part of activities to make two years of the Buhari-led administration.
According to Shehu, the `detention’ of the Shi’ite leader is also in his (El-Zak Zaky) own interest, saying it is duty bound on government to ensure the safety of all its citizens.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Gabriel Kolawola of an Abuja Federal High Court, in his judgment in December 2016, ordered the Department of State Services (DSS) to release El-Zak Zaky within 45 days.
Kolawole also ordered the Federal Government to provide an accommodation for El-Zak Zaky, his wife and family members within Kaduna State or any part of the northern region.
The court declared the continuous detention of El-Zak Zaky since December 13, 2015 as unlawful and illegal since the issue of protective custody was unknown to law or the National Security Agencies Act establishing the DSS.
However, the presidential spokesman said El-Zak Zaky could not be released as government was putting public and security interest dimensions into consideration.
On the continued detention of former National Security Adviser, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki, the presidential aide said Dasuki was being held because he had other criminal cases to answer.
He, therefore, maintained that Dasuki’s release might affect the ongoing investigation of cases against him.
“It is a common thing in all nations of the world that there are matters of public safety.
“The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, I think, has made his points here in the State House, against individuals’ interest.
“And in all cases, public good should override individual interest.’’ (NAN)