“The way out is simple, as far as I am concerned. Their leader was allegedly arrested for criminal activity. No matter how high your crime is, it is subject to court adjudication. The court has ruled. The court ruling should be respected and the government ought to review their decision that this man is constituting a grave security threat. I believe government should obey court orders, release El-Zakzaky, then we know where to draw the line,” Onaiyekan declared.
As the police, yesterday, arraigned 130 out of the 400 members of IMN before the Magistrates Court in Abuja over their alleged involvement, the group has declared 1,000 of its members missing after series of clashes with security operatives.
Those arraigned were accused of engaging in violent protest in some parts of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as they clamoured for the release of their leader.
They were arraigned in batches before courts 11, 15, 17 and 18.
Thirty five of them were arraigned before Magistrate Njideka Duru of Court 11 and were granted each bail at N50,000 with a surety in like sum, just as another batch of 35 who were arraigned before Magistrate Musa Ibrahim Jibo of Court 15 were granted bail at N200,000 with one surety each.
Twenty others were docked before Magistrate Lateef Abolaji who granted them bail at N50, 000, while Magistrate Elizabeth Jones Woni granted bail at N500, 000 to each of the 30 brought before her. She equally directed that they must jointly provide three sureties.
Those arraigned were mostly male with about 12 women, some of them nursing mothers.
According to the First Information Reports (FIR) tendered in court, the sect members were charged with disturbing public peace, causing bodily harm to individuals (including police personnel and members of the public), among others.
The sect members who were conveyed to court in two police trucks pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them, following, which their lawyers applied for bail on their behalf.
They were, however, returned to the police vehicles pending when they meet their bail conditions.
Further hearing has been fixed for December 5.
The FCT Police Commissioner, Mr. Bala Ciroma, had disclosed that 400 shi’ite members were arrested in connection with Tuesday’s violent protest.
He alleged that the police recovered 31 bottles of petrol bombs and other dangerous weapons, claims the group dismissed as blackmail.
Abdullahi Musa, spokesman of the IMN, said in addition to the 1,000 missing members, 46 were killed while 107 sustained injuries.
He claimed instead of the police to account for the missing members of the group, they resorted to blackmail.
“The police should come out and tell the world where they got the explosive and account for over 1,000 people that got missing during the three days protest.”
Also, IMN Media Forum president, Ibrahim Musa, said they would resist any attempt to link the sect to terrorism.
“This is the plot of the security agents and those instructing them from behind the scene in order to blackmail the movement.”
Musa said members of the group have “right to practice their religion or belief, assemble, express themselves and protest as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on freedom of religion.”
He said they could not, therefore, be denied that right with “the scare of mischievously placing the movement on red alert.”