URGENT ALERT: Global / Nigeria – Demand the release of Sheikh Zakzaky and Mallimah Zeenah for medical treatment

IHRC is urging supporters of justice everywhere to intensify the campaign to free the illegally detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky so that he can receive life-saving medical treatment.


Background

Action required

Background

New, more detailed medical examinations on the beleaguered sheikh have found that the levels of lead toxicity in his body are much higher than the critical levels previously reported and 45 times over the normal acceptable limit. They have also found worrying levels of cadmium poisoning in the sheikh.

Such are the levels of toxicity that the doctors have concluded that Sheikh Zakzaky is at risk of death unless he is urgently treated. With the necessary treatment not being available in Nigeria they have recommended that he be flown outside the country to a reputable medical centre.

Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm after receiving four gunshot injuries during the December 2015 massacre by the Nigerian military of over 1000 followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The lead toxicity is believed to be a direct result of the shrapnel from bullets left in his body.

Since his detention supporters have sought to provide him with necessary medical help. However, Nigerian authorities have consistently prevented the sheikh from accessing his own medical treatment and have repeatedly refused requests for him to travel abroad. This is in spite of the fact that in January this year a judge presiding over the trial of Sheikh Zakzaky ordered that he should be allowed to receive medical treatment from doctors of his own choosing.

In late 2016 a federal court ruled Sheikh Zakzaky’s detention and that of his wife Zeenah unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the government to release them by January 16, 2017 and pay compensation. That order was never implemented and the charges were brought against the couple in 2018. In reality, the charges are designed to deflect government responsibility for the planned and systematic 2015 attack by soldiers which is now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.

Action required

IHRC is asking for vigils and protests to be organised and letters to be sent to local Nigerian diplomatic missions requesting that the sheikh be allowed to travel abroad.  Details of events will be shared on the IHRC website and social media.  Please contact Wajahat wajahat@ihrc.org with details of your action or for more information on what you can do, or details of event sin your area.

You can find a model letter for Nigerian diplomatic missions and details of how to contact some here.