Iran Condemns Violence in Nigeria, Urges Release of Sheikh Zakzaky

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry voiced deep concern over clashes in the rallies held in Nigeria’s capital Abuja by supporters of the ailing leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, calling for the release of the cleric for medical treatment.

Iran Condemns Violence in Nigeria, Urges Release of Sheikh Zakzaky

In a statement on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi expressed deep concern about Monday’s clashes in Abuja, and condemned violence and the use of force in the demonstrations.

Some reports suggest that at least 11 people were killed in Abuja following clashes between security forces and supporters of Sheikh Zakzaky, whose health has deteriorated in detention since 2015.

Pointing to the deterioration of Sheikh Zakzaky’s health conditions and a report from a medical team that has highlighted an urgent need for medical care for the religious leader and his wife in a foreign country, Mousavi said, “The Nigerian officials are expected to take action, as soon as possible, to release Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky from the detention center to allow him access to decent and immediate medical services.”

The spokesman also emphasized the necessity for the protection of security, stability and calm in Nigeria, called on the two sides to stay calm, and urged the Nigerian authorities to exercise self-restraint, expedite the medical treatment of Sheikh Zakzaky, address the existing concerns about deterioration of his health, and resolve the issue through dialogue.

On Monday, demonstrators took to the streets of Abuja demanding the release of their popular religious leader following reports of worsening health conditions of both Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, who is also imprisoned.

Sheikh Zakzaky has been held in detention since December 2015 and was charged just in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty.

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 has lost his left eyesight in a raid 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 custody.

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