15th August, 2023
In remembrance of their son and brother, Zackari Muhammed, the family of the late former Nigerian head of state, General Murtala Muhammed, has expressed profound discontent with the prosecution of murder trials in Nigeria
27-year-old Zackari Muhammed, a finance graduate of the University of Canterbury in Kent, met a tragic end in Abuja on August 13, 1993. He was fatally shot.
Dr. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode made the family’s position known at the 30th anniversary of Zakari Muhammed’s untimely death, held in Lagos at the weekend.
Muhammed-Oyebode lamented that “Precisely three decades ago, the life of our cherished brother was cut short. Even though the perpetrators were positively identified, all efforts to prosecute the case failed during the preliminary investigation and arraignment phase.”
Recalling the distressing circumstances surrounding Zackari’s tragic demise, Muhammed-Oyebode criticised the case’s management, stating that, “the entire procedure was shrouded in confusion, and the ultimate conclusion was a glaring miscarriage of justice.”
She suggested that, “to put a stop to similar development in the future, a Legislation that protects the rights of victims, a law that reflects the spirit of our nation should be enacted for Nigerians.”
According to her, “the establishment of such a legal framework will guarantee comprehensive protection for victims throughout the complex corridors of the criminal justice system. As we observe this solemn anniversary, we beseech our federal legislators to champion the passage of laws based on the principles of victims’ rights.”
Muhammed-Oyebode emphasised that these legislative measures “will unequivocally secure the rights of victims across the spectrum of criminal cases. On a global scale, victims’ rights are recognised as an essential component of human rights.”
She noted that, “the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for victims of crimes and abuse of power as early as 1985. The time has arrived for Nigeria to adopt a victim-centric legal paradigm.”
Muhammed-Oyebode, highlighting the repercussions of ignoring such legislation, emphasised that “in the absence of this essential legal framework, unresolved crimes will continue to proliferate, fostering an environment conducive to unlawful killings and impunity.
“In cases where lives are unjustly taken, such as in murder cases, the rights of not only the immediate victim but also the secondary victims must be strengthened by providing them with the legal means to pursue justice and ensuring a fair trial.”