The son of Nigeria’s Muslim leader Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky has warned about the deteriorating health of the 66-year-old cleric, who has been held in detention along with his wife for more than three years.
Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, 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 his left eye.
During the brutal crackdown, three of his sons lost their lives, his wife sustained serious wounds and more than 300 of his followers were killed.
Zakzaky was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty, vehemently rejecting all accusations brought up against him by his country’s authorities.
On Saturday, his son, Mohammad, said that 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.”
Mohammad said the Nigerian authorities had not taken any action so far, and that they intend to murder his father.
On Friday, the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) announced that it had received reports about Zakzaky’s health condition that it had further worsened.
The IHRC — which had sent a medical team to Nigeria in April to examine the health condition of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife — has already said the specialist treatment they require can only be fully accessed outside the African country.
Separately, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) had also said last week that the cleric had been poisoned in prison and required urgent medical care abroad.
On Thursday, the IMN also said in a statement that the group’s leaders would hold Nigerian President Buhari Muhammadu responsible “if anything should happen to Zakzaky or his wife in detention.”
“Their health status is of paramount significance to us all and Buhari must be held responsible should anything untoward happen to either the Sheikh or his wife,” the IMN said.
“We are once again calling for the immediate release of our leader and his wife, whose health situations appear to be deteriorating very fast, especially in view of the reported poisoning they were subjected to in detention,” the statement further read.
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.
-Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky