Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been strongly urged to release the African country’s senior Shia cleric and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who was seriously wounded and detained in a brutal raid on his residence nearly two years ago.
In a letter written to the Nigerian president on Thursday, lawyer Femi Falana said that the top Shia cleric had to be released “on health grounds.”
Zakzaky lost his left eye sight in the raid, which was carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria back in December 2015.
During the raid, Zakzaky’s wife, too, sustained serious wounds and more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed. Zakzaky, his wife, and a large number of the cleric’s other followers have since been in custody.
The clergyman is said to have been charged with “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.”
Falana wrote that the top Shia cleric now “risks” losing the sight in his right eye, too, “sequel to the brutal treatment meted out to him by the armed soldiers.”
‘Zakzaky’s wife in critical health condition’
The prominent lawyer, who said he had visited the couple in secret police detention in the capital, Abuja, a few days earlier, warned that Zakzaky’s wife was in a “far worse” state.
“For reasons best known to the State Security Service, some of the bullets lodged in her body during the brutal attack of December 14, 2015 have not been extracted,” Falana’s letter further read, adding “in the circumstances, she has been subjected to excruciating pain and agony on a daily basis.” Her life is in danger unless she receives urgent medical attention, he said.
Nigerian authorities have previously ignored a court order to free the couple.
Final arguments have been presented in a Nigerian court regarding the deadly attack on senior cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky’s house during the army’s 2015 massacre in Zaria.
Over the weekend, at least three people lost their lives in the northern city of Kano after security police opened fire on an IMN procession to commemorate the martyrdom of the third Shia Imam, Imam Hussein (PBUH), who is a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).