A Federal High Court, Abuja, has adjourned two separate lawsuits filed by the leader of the banned Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, until March 9 for hearing.
Judge Inyang Ekwo set the date after the defense attorney appeared in court with a request for an extension to regularize their proceedings.
Judge Ekwo agreed to their prayers and adjourned the matter until March 9 for a final hearing.
The judge ordered all parties to file all necessary proceedings for the hearing, saying that “on the date of the hearing, the proceedings of any party absent from court will be deemed adopted.”
The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that El-Zakzaky and his wife, in lawsuits filed on October 14, 2021, had sued the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). ) for 2 billion naira each for the seizure of their passports.
El-Zakzaky and his wife were on trial at the Kaduna State High Court on charges of manslaughter and unlawful assembly, among charges brought against them in connection with the bloody clash between IMN members and soldiers in Zaria, state of Kaduna, in December 2015. .
The couple, who were cleared of the charges with the Kaduna court declaring they had no case to answer in a ruling dated July 28, 2021, said, in their enforcement claims, that the trip to India “was supervised and controlled” by the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the DSS.
The trip “was aborted for reasons best known to the Federal Government,” the couple said, adding that their passports and other travel documents were later taken from them “and held in the custody of the respondents.”
Following the Kaduna court ruling, the couple’s lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, wrote separate letters to the NIA, DSS and AGF, demanding the release of their passports allegedly seized after the trip to India.
‘Forbidden to travel abroad’
According to them, they subsequently approached the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to check the status of their passports “to allow them to travel for urgent medical care” only to be told that “there is a restriction” imposed by the DSS that prevents them from travel outside of Nigeria.
They were informed by NIS officials that their seized passports and other travel documents cannot be replaced unless restrictions are lifted and the passports are handed over to them, the couple said.
Their lawyer argued that the seizure of their passports and the travel restrictions imposed on them, actions they attributed to DSS and AGF, violated their rights to “freedom of movement guaranteed by Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The lawyer also argued that the seizure violates article 12 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (CAP A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The couple, in their lawsuits, urged the court to declare that the seizure of their passports was “unlawful and unconstitutional.”
The plaintiffs also argued that the action of the DSS and the AGF violated their fundamental right to “freedom of movement guaranteed by Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
The plaintiffs also urged the court to declare that the “Red Flag Travel Restrictions” placed on their passports and land borders by the defendants without a court order are illegal and unconstitutional.
Therefore, they asked the court to declare that the DSS and AGF‘s refusal to allow them to travel abroad for medical treatment “constitutes a threat to their lives guaranteed by Section 33 of the Nigerian constitution”.
The “red flag travel restrictions” placed on El-Zakzaky’s passport number A50578740 and Zeenah’s passport number A50578739 violate their rights, their lawyer argued.
They each asked the court to order the defendants to pay them N2 billion, totaling N4 billion, “as general and exemplary damages” for the violation of their “rights to freedom of movement, fair hearing and property”.
They also requested a perpetual injunction prohibiting the defendants from continuing to violate their “fundamental rights in any way and in any way without legal justification.”
The couple, who were released from custody after the court cleared them of the charges, said they were “currently” facing deteriorating health conditions.
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