“Sheikh Zakzaky deserves immediate freedom for very many reasons particularly at this difficult period that the nation is facing the scourge of Coronavirus,” the IMN said in a statement on Friday addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the movement’s official website.
The IMN reminded that even before the outbreak, Zakzaky was already in need of “expert medical attention as a result of the injuries he sustained when the military attacked his residence in December 2015.”
Nigeria’s military carried out the attack as part of a deadly state-ordered escalation targeting the movement that Abuja has branded as illegal.
During the attack, the 66-year-old was beaten and lost his left eye and his wife sustained serious wounds.
The violence led to the death of three of Zakzaky’s sons and more than 300 of his followers.
The statement noted that Zakzaky had “additionally suffered multiple strokes while in detention and was found to have dangerously very high levels of toxic heavy metals circulating in his system.”
Zakzaky was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, the disruption of public peace, and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty.
The IMN, meanwhile, noted that a 2016 Federal High Court ruling has ruled Zakzaky’s arrest “unlawful, unconstitutional, and a breach of his fundamental rights.”
Last August, the cleric and his wife were transferred to India to receive medical care but were returned abruptly without receiving any treatment.
The novel virus that can cause a potentially fatal respiratory infection called COVID-19 has killed close to 102,700 people worldwide since emerging in central China late last year. Nigeria has reported seven deaths and 240 active cases.