The Republic of Iran has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to release the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise called Shi’ites, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky to enable him to travel to their country for medical attention.
According to Tribune, the request was contained in a letter written to the Nigerian authorities by the Iranian Prosecutor-General Mr. Mohammed Montazeri.
Iran is considered a strong base Shi’ite Muslims and said to be sympathetic to the El-Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
Montazeri criticised the Federal Government’s handling of the crisis, adding that El-Zakzakky’s current medical condition had become a source of worry.
The letter read in part: “I, as the prosecutor general of the Islamic Republic of Iran, urge the Nigerian judicial authorities (to take steps) in line with their judicial independence and support for a captive citizen, and provide the ground for his release and transfer him to the Islamic Republic of Iran for treatment.”
Recall that Sheikh El-Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eye when Nigerian government forces raided the northern town of Zaria more than three years ago.
The raid started after Shi’ites refused to allow the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Tukur Buratai, to ply a road.
His wife also sustained serious wounds while more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed in the violence that ensued.
The cleric has been kept in custody along with his wife and a large number of his followers ever since.
El-Zakzky’s followers have for the last two years been holding protests mainly in Abuja, calling for his immediate release.
This became more aggressive leading to the deaths of Shi’ites, security officials and innocent Nigerians caught in the crossfire.
On Monday, a journalist, Precious Owolabi, who was a National Youth Service Corps member, was killed by a stray bullet while a Deputy Commissioner of Police also lost his life.
Iran, which is the stronghold of the Shi’a Muslim faith, has been demanding the release of El-Zakzaky for over three years despite reports that the Office of the National Security Adviser has asked for Iran to withdraw support for the Shi’ite leader.
Back in 2016, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court ordered his unconditional release from jail following a trial but the government has so far refused to set him free.
El-Zakzaky’s legal team has long called for his release, saying he is suffering from health issues that require urgent medical care abroad but the state high court in Kaduna has denied the request.
Another bail hearing is expected to take place on Monday, July 29.