Detained leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, also known as the Shi’ite sect, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, have notified a Federal High Court in Abuja of their intention to ask for the imprisonment of those who continue to hold them in custody in disobedience of court order.
El-Zakzaky and his wife have remained in the custody of the Department of State Service since December 15, 2015, despite a judgment of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court in Abuja, delivered on December 2, 2016, ordering their release within 45 days.
The 45-day ultimatum given to the DSS and the AGF had expired on January 17, 2017.
Following the expiration of the court’s ultimatum, the couple, through their lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), filed before the court a ‘Notice of consequence of disobedience of order of court’, otherwise referred to as FORM 48, on January 20, 2017.
They joined the Director-General of the Department of State Service, Mr. Lawal Daura, and the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, as the alleged contemnors who had refused to comply with the court’s judgment.
Our correspondent learnt on Sunday that the FORM 48 was served on Malami personally last Friday.
Contained in the Form 48, is a warning to Daura and Malami that they would be guilty of contempt and be liable for imprisonment if they further failed to comply with the court’s judgment.
The ultimatum given to by the court for the couple to be released was erroneously stated as 40 days.
The applicants stated in the notice that the court had been notified of the alleged contemnors’ refusal to comply with the judgment delivered on December 2, 2017.
The Form 48 reads in part, “Take notice that unless you obey the direction contained in the order of the Federal High Court of Justice, Abuja delivered on December 2, 2016, which ordered you to release the applicants in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/281/2016 and its sister case with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/281/2016 within forty (40) days, inter alia you will be guilty of contempt and will be liable to be committed to prison.
“A copy of the said order of court earlier served on you is hereby annexed for your on-the-spot reference.
“This court has been informed that even as at today, Friday, January 20, 2017, you are yet to comply with the lawful order of this honourable court by refusing to release the following persons namely: Sheikh El-Zakzaky and Zeenah Ibraheem in your custody.
“You are hereby directed to comply with the court order forthwith or you will be guilty of contempt of court.”
If FORM 48 is usually followed by Form 49 in which the applicants can ask for the imprisonment of the alleged contemnors if they still fail to comply with the court’s judgment.
Meanwhile the AGF on January 19, 2017, two days after the ultimatum given by the court for the release of the couple expired, filed an eight-ground notice of appeal against the court’s judgment.
Speaking with our correspondent on Sunday, Falana said the appeal had no effect on the enforcement of the court’s judgment.
He said, “No motion for stay. Even if they filed one it will be an exercise in futility as it has been held that the liberty of a citizen cannot be stayed.
“Even under a military dictatorship, the Court of Appeal held in Nigerian Army v Mowarin that once the release of anyone has been ordered, a motion for stay of execution cannot be granted to prolong an illegal detention.
“That law has not changed. I want to believe that that is why the federal ministry of Justice did not file any motion for stay of execution.”