IHRC urges UK Foreign Secretary to help secure Zakzakys' release

PRESS RELEASE

IHRC has written to the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister Dominic Raab urging him to intervene and help secure the release the leader of the country’s Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and his wife Mallima Zeenah and end their near six-year ordeal.

The letter comes as the pair prepare to face a court in Kaduna, Nigeria, to answer trumped up charges relating to the killing of a security official in the massacre by the country’s armed forces of over 1000 of the Islamic Movement’s supporters.

The case has been adjourned until tomorrow to allow Mallimah Zeenah to receive medical treatment for Covid-19 infection she received while in prison.

The letter, which has been copied to the Africa Minister James Duddgridge MP and the Minister of State for the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad, appeals to Raab to help end the Zakzaky’s ordeal in the light of the new threat they face from the spread of the virus in Nigeria’s prisons.

The pair are both in their 60’s and suffer from severe underlying conditions which make them particularly vulnerable to the effects of the deadly virus.

Overcrowding in Nigeria’s jails, which currently operate at over 150 per cent of capacity, has meant that the virus has spread rapidly within the prison population.
The government acknowledges the increased risk this poses to inmates. Last summer the country released 7,813 prisoners from its Correctional Service centres around the country to relieve pressure and help fight the raging pandemic.

Many of those released were freed under presidential pardons issued by Buhari. However, despite their vulnerability, the Zakzakys remain in prison. This is all the more unacceptable given that the couple have never been convicted of any crimes and are being held unlawfully in defiance of a 2016 federal high court order ordering their release.

“We urge you to do everything in your efforts to persuade Nigeria, a fellow member of the Commonwealth, to release the Zakzakys immediately so that they can receive the care and protection they urgently need and be protected from the scourge of Covid-19”, states the letter.

For more information, interviews with one of the legal of team in Nigeria or a member of the Zakzaky family, please call +447958522196.

Notes for Editors:

[1] To arrange an interview with the head of the Zakzaky legal team and or a spokesperson from the Zakzaky family please call or WhatsApp (+44) 7958522196.
[2] To read IHRC’s latest submission to the ICC visit here.
[3] Find a case Press Kit here.
[4] Find the IHRC #FreeZakzaky campaign details here.[ENDS]

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
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Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
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