Request On El-Zakzaky By Iran: Should Nigeria Oblige?

By Yusufu Shehu Usman

It is curious though not unexpected that Iran would request the Nigerian government to hand over the embattled Shiite leader El zakzaky to it for medical treatment. This is an an unusual practice in the field of international diplomacy
The request in my opinion has so many implications in law and in diplomacy
The Islamic Republic of Iran has described El zakzaky as a “captive” even when it is clear to the whole world that he is being held in consequence of a criminal charge preferred against him pursuant to the penal code extant and applicable in the jurisdiction where he was arraigned
I refrain from making any comments on the merits or otherwise of the charge, being a matter sub judice but suffice it to state that there is nothing unusual or illegal about any Nigerian being put to trial for an alleged offence established by law
In the practice of international diplomacy and under the basic rules of international law, nations are obligated to respect the sovereignty and domestic laws of other nations. It is wrong for any nation to interfere with the domestic affairs of another nation and Iran has no right to refer to a Nigerian detained pursuant to the laws of Nigeria as a “captive”
On this score, the Islamic Republic of Iran should withdraw this word and apologise to the Nigerian government for the unwarranted innuendo which is capable of portraying the Nigerian legal system in bad light before the international community
It must be appreciated that under our laws, the issue of bail before, during and after trial is a matter of law and subject to the discretion of the court.
The discretion whether to grant or withhold bail to any person charged in court with a criminal offence, is the prerogative of the court and not that of the government.
It must however be added that the court is also mandated by the law to exercise such discretion judicially and judiciously after taking into account all the circumstances of the case against the accused person. It should never be exercised arbitrarily or oppressively.
It is also possible and intamdem with our criminal law and procedure that an accused person may be granted bail in respect of one offence by the court and yet be held in detention for another offence in respect of which the other court has refused to admit him to bail.
This is in appreciation of the fact that the same person may be arraigned before different courts and charged with totally different and unrelated offences. The grant of bail for one offence or by one court does not preclude any other court from withholding bail in the exercise of its jurisdiction over the case before it
The other disturbing and curious implication of Iran’s request to the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to release and submit El Zakzaky to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for treatment, is that it amounts to insult on the sovereignty of Nigeria as an independent nation. It is also an abuse of the established diplomatic channel of communication
I am not aware that Elzakzaky holds double nationality as a Nigerian and an Iranian at the same time.
If he doesn’t, he is a bona fide citizen of Nigeria and it amounts to an interference in the domestic affairs of Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation for Iran to make an official request to Nigeria to submit a Nigerian citizen to a foreign government for any reason whatsoever. it is even wort and in absolute bad faith when this request was made after Iran had criticised and disparaged the Nigerian legal system under which Elzakzaky is standing trial
It is a most curious and unusual request in the realms of international law and diplomacy. I have not seen any precedent for it in international law
I say with all sense of responsibility that Iran would not have had the effrontery to make a similar request to the United States of America even if it’s own citizens are held there without trial and even if their conditions of health in detention were to be worst than the condition under Elzakzaky is held under the Nigerian legal system.
The Elzakzaky phenomenon has thrown so many challenges to the Nigerian criminal justice system but in strict sense of the law, it is neither unusual, extraordinary nor unprecedented
In the eyes of the law, the Elzakzaky issue is neither complicated nor novel. However that does not mean that a simple and clear legal issue such as this, can not assume a phenomenal dimension in the political or in our over sensitive religious environment.
It is not my inclination in this post to comment on the political or religious implication of the continued detention of the Shiite leader. My object is to take a cursory look at the legal implications from the prisms of our domestic law and a peep into the window of international law, international relations and international diplomacy and the dynamics of interstate interactions within the framework of existing relationship between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Islamic Republic of Iran and I have attempted to do so, in a very brief manner devoid of detailsMY THOUGHT This Morning

The Request For El Zakzaky By The Islamic Republic of Iran

Should Nigeria Oblige?

It is curious though not unexpected that Iran would request the Nigerian government to hand over the embattled Shiite leader El zakzaky to it for medical treatment. This is an an unusual practice in the field of international diplomacy
The request in my opinion has so many implications in law and in diplomacy
The Islamic Republic of Iran has described El zakzaky as a “captive” even when it is clear to the whole world that he is being held in consequence of a criminal charge preferred against him pursuant to the penal code extant and applicable in the jurisdiction where he was arraigned
I refrain from making any comments on the merits or otherwise of the charge, being a matter sub judice but suffice it to state that there is nothing unusual or illegal about any Nigerian being put to trial for an alleged offence established by law
In the practice of international diplomacy and under the basic rules of international law, nations are obligated to respect the sovereignty and domestic laws of other nations. It is wrong for any nation to interfere with the domestic affairs of another nation and Iran has no right to refer to a Nigerian detained pursuant to the laws of Nigeria as a “captive”
On this score, the Islamic Republic of Iran should withdraw this word and apologise to the Nigerian government for the unwarranted innuendo which is capable of portraying the Nigerian legal system in bad light before the international community
It must be appreciated that under our laws, the issue of bail before, during and after trial is a matter of law and subject to the discretion of the court.
The discretion whether to grant or withhold bail to any person charged in court with a criminal offence, is the prerogative of the court and not that of the government.
It must however be added that the court is also mandated by the law to exercise such discretion judicially and judiciously after taking into account all the circumstances of the case against the accused person. It should never be exercised arbitrarily or oppressively.
It is also possible and intamdem with our criminal law and procedure that an accused person may be granted bail in respect of one offence by the court and yet be held in detention for another offence in respect of which the other court has refused to admit him to bail.
This is in appreciation of the fact that the same person may be arraigned before different courts and charged with totally different and unrelated offences. The grant of bail for one offence or by one court does not preclude any other court from withholding bail in the exercise of its jurisdiction over the case before it
The other disturbing and curious implication of Iran’s request to the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to release and submit El Zakzaky to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for treatment, is that it amounts to insult on the sovereignty of Nigeria as an independent nation. It is also an abuse of the established diplomatic channel of communication
I am not aware that Elzakzaky holds double nationality as a Nigerian and an Iranian at the same time.
If he doesn’t, he is a bona fide citizen of Nigeria and it amounts to an interference in the domestic affairs of Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation for Iran to make an official request to Nigeria to submit a Nigerian citizen to a foreign government for any reason whatsoever. it is even wort and in absolute bad faith when this request was made after Iran had criticised and disparaged the Nigerian legal system under which Elzakzaky is standing trial
It is a most curious and unusual request in the realms of international law and diplomacy. I have not seen any precedent for it in international law
I say with all sense of responsibility that Iran would not have had the effrontery to make a similar request to the United States of America even if it’s own citizens are held there without trial and even if their conditions of health in detention were to be worst than the condition under Elzakzaky is held under the Nigerian legal system.
The Elzakzaky phenomenon has thrown so many challenges to the Nigerian criminal justice system but in strict sense of the law, it is neither unusual, extraordinary nor unprecedented
In the eyes of the law, the Elzakzaky issue is neither complicated nor novel. However that does not mean that a simple and clear legal issue such as this, can not assume a phenomenal dimension in the political or in our over sensitive religious environment.
It is not my inclination in this post to comment on the political or religious implication of the continued detention of the Shiite leader. My object is to take a cursory look at the legal implications from the prisms of our domestic law and a peep into the window of international law, international relations and international diplomacy and the dynamics of interstate interactions within the framework of existing relationship between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Islamic Republic of Iran and I have attempted to do so, in a very brief manner devoid of details

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