8 December 2019
Iran constantly pursues the case of Nigeria’s top Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky through diplomatic contacts with the Nigerian government in line with efforts to help improve his health, says the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Speaking to reporters in Tehran on Sunday, Abbas Mousavi said Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Iranian Vice President for Economic Affairs Mohammad Nahavandian have recently held a meeting on a range of issues, including Zakzaky’s case.
The meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, took place on the sidelines of the 5th Summit of Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Equatorial Guinea.
“We hope that the consultations and arrangements that are being made will expedite the settlement of this issue,” the Iranian official said.
Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, has been under arrest since December 2015, when his home in the town of Zaria was raided by Nigerian forces in a deadly incident during which he was beaten and lost his left eye.
Three of his sons were killed, his wife sustained serious wounds and more than 300 of his followers lost their lives.
Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) regularly take to the streets of Abuja and several other cities to call for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky.
Nigerian authorities have transferred him and his wife, Zinat, to a dilapidated prison, where many detainees have so far died due to lack of medical care.
A High Court ordered the Department of State Services on Thursday to transfer the couple to the Correctional Center in Kaduna State, northwest of Nigeria.
‘Zakzaky’s legal right to treatment denied by government’
Earlier on Sunday, Sheikh Zakzaky’s daughter, Suhailah, expressed concerns about her parents’ health conditions and said the Nigerian government had ignored her father’s legal right to treatment.
Speaking at a press conference in Tehran, she added that the same court, which had issued a verdict on the necessity for the urgent treatment of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, on December 5 ordered their transfer to the Correctional Center in Kaduna. She said she knew nothing about her parents’ situation in the prison.
Suhailah said her father has suffered several bouts of heart attack due to numerous medical conditions and her mother is not able to walk. Sheikh Zakzaky, his daughter said, also suffers from lead and cadmium poisoning, which forced the Nigerian authorities to allow him to travel to India for treatment.
However, Sheikh Zakzaky was forced to leave India in mid-August in protest against the Nigerian government’s “obstruction” of his medical treatment.
Zakzaky returned along with his wife Mallimah Zinat — who was also seeking treatment for injuries — after announcing his planned departure earlier on Thursday.
The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, a non-profit organization, said the couple had “lost all faith” in the prospect of receiving proper treatment in India.
Naser Omar, a member of Sheikh Zakzaky’s medical team, also took part in Sunday press conference, showing medical documents and images, confirming that the cleric is suffering from seven diseases and his wife is also severely ill and none of them can move freely.
The doctor said Nigeria does not have sufficient treatment facilities and an Indian physician has even warned against a delay in treating Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife at a hospital.
It is unfortunate, Naser Omar said, that the Nigerian government has so far ignored such warnings and failed to provide Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife with proper treatment, which has had detrimental effects on their general health condition.
This report first appeared on the Iranian state-owned Press TV.