PRESS RELEASE - Nigeria: Authorities fiddle in Zakzaky affair while Rome burns

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The detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife has descended into the theatre of the absurd


The continued detention of the leader of Nigeria's Islamic Movement (IMN) without charge has become a farce and an embarrassment for the country

IHRC shares the view expressed by a federal judge presiding over a legal challenge brought this week against the authorities for detaining without charge Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat for over nine months.

After hearing oral representations, Justice Gabriel Kolawole described the affair as a national embarrassment and said a ruling would be made by 25 November 2016 on whether the detentions are illegal, unconstitional and violate the human rights of the pair.

Both Ibrahim and Zeenat Zakzaky suffered gunshot wounds after a massacre against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) last December left over 1000 people dead. Sheikh Zakzaky has already lost the use of an arm and one of his eyes and if if he continues to be denied the necessary medical treatment there is a possibility he could lose his sight completely.

IHRC holds the Nigerian government directly responsible for the deteriorating health of the couple. The pair are being held mostly incommunicado by Nigeria's intelligence services (DSS), against due process and in contravention of Nigerian and international law.

Bizarrely, even in court, counsel for the DSS, the Attorney General and the Chief of Army Staff continued to maintain on behalf of his clients that the Zakzakys were being held with their own consent in "protective custody" and with access to domestic comforts. He insisted that if released the pair would be in mortal danger.

IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: "The detention of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife has descended into the theatre of the absurd. We have no confidence in the Nigerian authorities to resolve this matter promptly and justly. This is why we are calling on the international community and particularly the United Nations to intervene to help secure the Zakzakys' release".

Notes to editors:

In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members.

Our report which we submitted to the ICC can be found HERE

For media enquiries or further details please email nadia@ihrc.org call +44 20 8904 4222 or +44 7958 522196 or 44 7426 728074

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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