Nigeria to release Sheikh Zakzaky, wife after COVID-19 diagnosis -

Nigeria to release Sheikh Zakzaky, wife after COVID-19 diagnosis

A prominent Islamic human rights NGO has urged Nigeria to release the country’s leading Muslim cleric and his wife, who have been unlawfully detained by Abuja since 2015 and afflicted with considerable suffering, now that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection.

Nigeria to release Sheikh Zakzaky – The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) made the plea with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, reminding the illegal grounds on which the duo were being kept.

“Mallimah Zeenah tested positive for COVID-19 this week in Kaduna state prison,” the body said, referring respectively to Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky’s spouse and the facility in the northwestern city of Kaduna, where they were incarcerated. The release, it added, was necessary “to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 in the country’s jails.”

Simultaneously IHRC has also written to the United Nations asking the international body to exert pressure on Nigeria to do the same.

Given Mallimah’s underlying medical conditions and her age, her infection places her at heightened risk of severe illness and/or death. Sheikh Zakzaky himself suffers from many underlying conditions, which put him at high risk of developing life-threatening symptoms should he contract the virus, the IHRC said.

In late 2015, Nigerian forces brutally attacked Zakzaky’s residence in the city of Zaria in Kaduna State and the followers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Muslim group that he leads. They laid the couple under arrest and went on to slay more than three of Zakzaky’s sons and more than 1,000 of IMN’s supporters.

Abuja ordered the massacre after claiming that the IMN had “attacked” a convoy carrying Nigeria’s defense minister. Reports, however, have shown how the convoy intentionally crossed paths with a religious procession by the movement earlier, prompting a conflict with its supporters that the state used as a pretext to launch the bloodbath.


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