Iran Says Efforts Underway to Address Sheikh Zakzaky Issue
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said diplomatic efforts are in progress to solve the problems concerning top Shiite cleric and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.
Answering a question on Sunday about Sheikh Zakzaky, given a recent meeting between the Iranian Vice President for Economic Affairs Mohammad Nahavandian and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on the sidelines of a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Equatorial Guinea, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said, “In the recent meeting between Dr. Nahavandian and President of Nigeria, Mr. Buhari, various subjects were mooted in the area of economic relations and regional and international developments, as well as the issue of Mr. Sheikh Zakzaky.”
“Moreover, in the constant diplomatic meetings and contacts that we hold between Tehran and Abuja, negotiations about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s help in settling the problem is on the agenda, and we hope that the consultations and arrangements that are underway with the Nigerian government would expedite the resolution of the problem,” the spokesman added.
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, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight in a raid which was 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 custody.