A group of medical experts and consultants has completed its initial health assessment of Nigeria’s top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky and his wife, who have been in detention since late 2015.
The delegation led by UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) visited the cleric and his wife, Mallima Zeenah, on Thursday and highlighted the need for urgent investigations into their health which it hoped would be carried out in the next couple of days.
The IHRC, an NGO which campaigns for justice, said in a statement it “acknowledges the authorities’ change of position in making this possible and hopes this heralds a full and just resolution of the situation.”
Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, has been held in detention since December 2015. He was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations.
In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered his unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.
The top cleric, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a raid carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria in December 2015.
During the raid, Zakzaky’s wife sustained serious wounds too and more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed. Zakzaky, his wife, and a large number of the cleric’s followers have since been in detention.