IHRC condemns the decision of the Kaduna state high court ordering the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife to be transferred from the custody of the internal security services (DSS) to a prison in the state.
The order marks a disturbing turn in the persecution of the couple who have both been in custody since they were badly injured and detained following a savage military attack on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in December 2015.
After detaining him without charge for over two years Nigerian authorities put Sheikh Zakzaky on trial in 2018 on trumped up charges of abetting the commission of culpable homicide by blocking roads in the city in the run up to the massacre. In reality the charges are designed to deflect government responsibility for a planned and systematic politically motivated attack by soldiers which is now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm after being shot during the December 2015 massacre by the Nigerian military of over 1000 followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. He has also suffered minor strokes while in detention.
Zeenah al-Zakzaky is also seriously ill with high blood pressure and can barely walk because of a bullet trapped near her spine.
The trial judge, Justice Gideon Kudafa said the decision to move the couple from a house to a prison was to enable their lawyers and doctors to have easy access to them.
This would be laughable were the Sheikh’s condition not so serious. There is genuine ground for concern that the Sheikh will not survive the harsh physical regime of a state prison. Moreover, several detainees who were being held in prison after the 2015 massacre have been moved out on account of their poor health.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “Putting a man in such poor health in prison is effectively signing his death sentence. What is more astonishing is that this is the same court that earlier this year recognised Sheikh Zakzaky’s parlous condition and ordered that he be allowed to fly to India to receive urgently needed medical treatment.”
The trial has been adjourned until February 6 next year.
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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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