29 July 2019
Attempts to secure the release of the embattled leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, have suffered a fresh setback with the adjournment of a court hearing today that was due to decide whether he should be freed to receive urgent medical treatment.
The Kaduna State High Court adjourned proceedings for the second time in as many weeks in what supporters say is a deliberate ploy to drag out proceedings so that the ailing sheikh’s condition deteriorates to the point of no return.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “This adjourment for one more week has gone beyond ridiculous. The court knows that the sheikh’s health is critical. It has to do the right thing which is to serve justice and stop politicking for the benefit of those who want to see Sheikh Zakzaky dead.”
Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky is suffering from extreme levels of lead poisoning sustained after receiving four gunshot injuries during the 2015 massacre of Islamic Movement of Nigeria members and supporters by the country’s armed forces. The toxicity is believed to be a direct result of the shrapnel from bullets left in his body. The sheikh has also lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm and suffered a minor stroke earlier this month. Doctors say his health is deteriorating daily and that he is at risk of death if left untreated.
Nigerian authorities had earlier this month promised to issue international passports to the sheikh and his wife so they can leave the country in order to receive medical attention. However they have since backtracked on their assurances leading the pair’s lawyers to seek their release through the courts.
In recent weeks dozens of supporters in Nigeria have been killed or wounded as they intensified protests demanding the pair’s release. Demonstrations have erupted all around the world to seek to pressurise the Nigerian government to restore their freedom.
Sheilh Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been held illegally since being detained during the 2015 massacre. In late 2016 a federal court ruled the couples’ detention 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.
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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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