LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigeria's government will not release two prominent detainees despite several court orders for their release, and will not comment on the situation of a third, wounded detainee, President Muhammadu Buhari said Wednesday.
Buhari, a former military dictator who calls himself a born-again democrat, did not discuss the propriety of defying court orders when he spoke on national TV.
"If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country!" Buhari said in justification. "We can't allow them to jump bail."
A Federal High Court set no bail conditions and ordered the unconditional release of Biafra separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu on Dec. 17. Kanu was detained Oct. 17 on charges recently escalated to terrorism and financing terrorism. His cause led to a civil war that killed 1 million people in the 1960s.
Former national security adviser Sambo Dasuki was detained Nov. 4 after intelligence agents surrounded his home for days to prevent him from leaving the country after a court allowed him bail to seek medical care abroad.
Dasuki is accused, among other things, of diverting $2.2 billion meant to buy arms to fight the Boko Haram Islamic uprising. Three courts have ordered his release on bail.
"What of the over two million people displaced, most of them orphans whose fathers have been killed?" Buhari asked. "We cannot allow that."
He refused to discuss the situation of Shiite leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, who was detained with four bullet wounds Dec. 14 in military raids that allegedly killed hundreds of his followers.
The army said the raids and bulldozing of Zakzaky's home and Shiite spiritual centers was a response to an alleged Shiite attempt to assassinate Nigeria's army chief. Human Rights Watch has said the raid was unprovoked.
Authorities have refused to allow anyone to see Zakzaky.
Buhari said he would not comment until an investigation is complete.