After a long battle with the Nigerian authorities to recover their travel documents the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky has arrived in Iran together with his wife to receive much needed medical treatment.
The pair touched down in Tehran on Saturday to be greeted by throngs of well-wishers.
Shortly after arriving in the capital, Sheikh Zakzaky met with the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei before moving on to Mashhad where he will be treated.
Sheikh Zakzaky was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Tehran.
The couple’s visit comes after a protracted tussle with the Nigerian authorities to recover travel documents that were seized from them when they were arrested following the Zaria massacre in 2015.
Since the pair were released from illegal detention in July 2021, they have been prevented from flying abroad by Nigerian authorities who refused to return their passports.
The couple were taking legal action seeking the restoration of their passports but faced stalling tactics from the government. IHRC wrote to the UN in January 2022 urging the organisation to intervene.
Sheikh Zakzaky has lead poisoning after sustaining 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 has suffered several strokes.
His wife, Mallimah Zeenah, is also seriously ill with high blood pressure and can barely walk because of a bullet trapped near her spine.
The 2015 Zaria massacre claimed the lives of over 1000 supporters of the Islamic Movement. Despite the enormity of the casualties, not a single official has been charged or brought to trial over the killings. The massacre is the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.