The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has expressed shock over the decision of the Kaduna state government to appeal a Kaduna High Court judgment discharging and acquitting about 100 Shi’ites, instead of apologizing to the accused persons who spent two years and seven months in prison.
The movement stressed that the state government should rather apologize to its members who have just been acquitted, and pay them commensurate compensation.
Lead Counsel for the defendants, Maxwell Kyon said in a statement, “Rather than talking about appeals, we had expected the Kaduna State Government to issue an apology to all the accused persons that have been discharged by the Kaduna State High Court who have, by the day of their discharge and acquittal spent a period 2 years and 7 months in pr custody awaiting trial on charges which were clearly bogus and frivolous.
“It was clear that the government by filing the said bogus charges against them just wanted to keep them out of circulation.
“We still believe that the government should apologize to them and pay them commensurate compensation.
“Among the accused persons were 4 students of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. 2 are students of the Kaduna State Polytechnic in Zaria and a host of others were students of different tertiary institutions and secondary schools. All of them have lost their status as students due to incarceration and some of them have lost their parents, relatives and their homes.
“In the case of two of the students of ABU, we filed a bail application on their behalf requesting that they be granted bail with an undertaking from their father who is a Professor at the same University to ensure they were in court on every adjourned date to stand their trial. The state vehemently opposed our bail application. Today they have lost their places in the said institution.
“The Court has pronounced them innocent of whatever offence they are accused of committing and we had expected some empathy from the state government, some form of scholarship to enable them continue with their education, medical examination of their health and some compensation to enable them start life afresh.
“Over 80 per cent of those discharged by the Court were married with children and of this number almost all of them were the bread winners of their families. As a result of their incarceration they were not able to meet with their responsibilities of providing for their homes. A number of them lost their marriages. The wife of one of them even left the matrimonial home abandoning her kids who were 9 years old and 3 years old respectively.
“During the period of incarceration about 4 of the Defendants died in custody and their wives are now widows and their children orphans. The Kaduna State Government knew that some of them who were either gravely ill before incarceration or who developed ailments while incarcerated had their situations worsened due to the unavailability of a proper environment to manage their ailments.
“We are convinced that with proper management some of them will be alive today and yet the Kaduna State Government does not deem it fit to visit and commiserate with their families and pay them adequate compensation.
“A large number of those that stood trial were workers in various ministries, agencies and departments of government in various States of the Federation. Most of them could not do their BVN due to their incarceration. Many of them had had their appointments terminated and their pensionable appointments and benefits lost. The Kaduna State Government does not consider this grave injustice since the trumped up charged against the accused persons has been thrown out.”
Regretting that the Attorney General of Kaduna State in her press statement said the judgment of the Kaduna High Court was perverse and totally lacking in merit, IMN said, “What the Attorney General failed to tell the public in the statement is that of the 47 witnesses they called, 40 of them were police officers who never visited the scene of the purported crimes.
“What the Attorney General failed to tell the public is that 95% of the Defendants had written statements showing they were not even at the scene of the events that gave rise to the cases and only made it to the scene after the army had killed the over 346 persons who were eventually buried in mass graves by the state.
“What the Attorney General failed to tell the public is that the Chief Investigating Police Officer had under cross examination admitted that the army had told him during the course of investigation that Cpl Dan kaduna who was supposed to have been killed by the defendants was actually killed by friendly fire from the soldiers themselves.
“What the Attorney General also failed to mention is that none of the witnesses who testified was able to situate any of the Defendants at the scene of the crime in their testimonies.
“What the Attorney General did not mention was that at least 10 of the Defendants who were arrested were not even mentioned at all in the case from beginning to end.
“What the Attorney General did not mention was that though the charge filed against the Defendants stated that Cpl. Dan Kaduna was killed at Hussainiya when he along with others alighted from the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) the evidence given at trial pointed to the fact that he was killed by his fellow soldiers at a place other than Hussaniya and on the 13th of December not the 12th of December as stated on the charge.
“It is also worthy of note that the Attorney General of Kaduna State never appeared in Court even for a day for the entire duration of this matter and cannot in good conscience speak authoritatively on the outcome of the case.”