By Ige Olugbenga
Human rights lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) on Wednesday condemned President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide Garba Shehu for his comments on Ibrahim El-Zakzaky’s detention.
Speaking with journalists on Tuesday, Shehu said El-Zakzaky was not in detention but in protective custody.
Falana, in a statement, wondered if Shehu had become power drunk.
He said: “In a reckless demonstration of official impunity, Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity purportedly issued a statement yesterday on behalf of the presidency to justify the illegal detention of Sheikh Ibraheem Elzakzaky and his wife, Hajia Ibraheema Elzakzaky.
“In the incendiary statement, Shehu claimed that the valid and subsisting order of the federal high court made on December 2, 2016 would not be obeyed by the federal government on the dubious ground that the Sheikh is in ‘protective custody’ while the justification for holding the wife is that she is taking good care of her husband in the illegal custody.” he said.
“According to Shehu, ‘El-Zakzaky is held for his own good. If you set him free, what do you think will happen on the streets? He is not in a typical prison condition. He has the company of his wife and children. They can leave if they want. There is overall public good weighing against his release.’
“In the chequered history of Nigeria, this is the first time that a democratically elected government has openly justified the detention of any citizen in defiance of a valid and subsisting order of a competent court of law.
“Even under the neo-tarzanist Buhari/Idiagbon military junta, court orders which directed that victims of the obnoxious Detention of Persons Decree No 2 of 1984 be released from illegal custody were complied with. But under a democratic government, Shehu wants Nigerians to believe that the El-Zakzakys are held in ‘protective custody’ after the federal high court had declared such detention illegal and unconstitutional. Or has Shehu suddenly become so power drunk to the extent that he can conveniently set aside the judgment of the federal high court?” He querried.
Falana also went on to ask that Shehu be called to order, because he could not have made the comment on behalf of the government.
“Since neither President Mohammadu Buhari nor Acting President Yemi Osinbajo could have authorised the contemptuous statement issued on behalf of the presidency Shehu Garba should be called to order and restrained from further exposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ridicule before the comity of civilised nations.