While the decision does not exonerate the pair, it is nevertheless an important first step in taking them out of the country where they have been persecuted for over three years, according to a statement by the IHRC on its website.
If and when they are released the couple will board a flight to India where specialist medical facilities are available to treat the sheikh’s extreme levels of lead poisoning, it read.
“This is a long overdue decision and we hope that the Nigerian executive expedites matters to make their departure smooth and unproblematic. We look forward to their prompt release without forgetting that there are still approximately 150 members and supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria still in detention,” IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh stated.
The lead poisoning was sustained after Sheikh Zakzaky received four gunshot injuries during the 2015 massacre of Islamic Movement of Nigeria members and supporters by the country’s armed forces. The toxicity is believed to be a direct result of the shrapnel from bullets left in his body. The sheikh has also lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm and suffered a minor stroke earlier this month. Doctors say his health is deteriorating daily and that he is at risk of death if left untreated.
Nigerian authorities had earlier this month promised to issue international passports to the sheikh and his wife so they could leave the country in order to receive medical attention. However, they later backtracked on their assurances leading the pair’s lawyers to seek their release through the courts.