A teenage boy has been killed after Nigerian police used live ammunition to disperse protesters demanding the release of jailed Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky in the country’s northwestern state of Kaduna.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), in a post published on its official Twitter page on Thursday, announced that dozens of people staged a rally in the state capital city of Kaduna, located 198 kilometers northeast of the capital Abuja, the previous day when police assaulted the participants and opened fire at them indiscriminately.
A 15-year-old secondary school student, identified as Muhammad Jawwad Liman, was shot and killed as a result.
Zakzaky, who is in his mid-60s, has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.
During the brutal arrest, three of his sons were also killed, his wife sustained serious wounds, and more than 300 of his followers were killed.
Last July, Sheikh Zakzaky’s son, Mohammad, said he was shocked by his father’s worsening medical condition after visiting him, stressing that he needed to be immediately hospitalized as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.”
A month later, the couple was transferred to India to receive medical care. However, they were forced to leave India after a few days in protest against the Nigerian government’s “obstruction” of his medical treatment and after they had “lost all faith” in the prospect of receiving proper treatment there.
Zakzaky, who is the leader of the IMN, was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, the disruption of public peace, and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty, vehemently rejecting all the accusations brought up against him.
In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered Zakzaky’s unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.