Shiite leader, El-Zakzaky, in ‘first public appearance since 2015’

Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky
Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky

The detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has made his first public appearance more than two years after he was detained by the Nigerian government.

Mr. El-Zakzaky met with a select group of journalists on Saturday at the State Security Service office in Abuja, Channels Television reported.

PREMIUM TIMES was not invited to the meeting organised by the State Security Service, and could not independently confirm Mr. El-Zakzaky’s appearance or condition.

Mr. El-Zakzaky, who leads Nigeria’s most popular Shi’ia group, has been in the custody of the SSS since 2015. He has been held without trial despite court orders directing his release.

The appearance came a day after rumours of Mr. El-Zakzaky’s death spread on the social media. The rumour was denied by his lawyer, Femi Falana.

In a brief video on Channels, Mr. El-Zakzaky is seen walking unsteadily out of a building to speak to journalists. He is later driven away in a Toyota Prado SUV.

Mr. El-Zakzaky said he had been allowed access to his personal physician for the first time, and thanked Nigerians for their prayers.

“It was severe on me on Monday but subsequently it started subsiding and for the first time at least the security allowed me to see my own Doctors.

“So it was my own doctors who examined me. Before I used to be examined by security doctors, this time I did not agree, and my own doctors came to examine me.

“I am getting better, thanks to all your prayers,” Mr. Zakzaky said before leaving for the vehicle.

Reacting to Mr. El-Zakzaky’s appearance, the IMN spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, told PREMIUM TIMES on telephone that none of the IMN members were aware of the arrangement.

“We have seen the one minute video, but what they should do is to obey the court order by freeing the Sheik so that he can go and look after his health,” he said.

“We will continue to press for our demand until the federal government obey’s the court order,” Mr. Musa said.

The IMN leader and his wife were arrested on December 14, 2015in Zaria following a clampdown on Shiites by the Nigerian Army.

At least 347 members Shiites were killed and secretly buried in mass graves by the army.

A Federal High Court in Abuja in December 2016 ordered the release of Mr. Zakzaky and his wife. The government refused to obey the order.

Members of the IMN group have been staging series of processions across the northern states demanding their release.

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