Court permits Zakzaky to seek medical treatment abroad

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A Kaduna State High Court Judge, on Monday, August 5, 2019, ruled that  the detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, could seek medical treatment in New Delhi, India.

The judgement came after a series of protests calling for his release turned violent last month.

Justice Darius Khobo, while granting the IMN leader the leave however said he would travel in company of State officials.

He said the IMN leader must return immediately after his discharge from the hospital to face his charges.

Nigeria banned the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in July after a week of protests in which the group said at least 20 of its members were killed in police crackdowns. Police gave no death toll.

The group’s leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, has been held since 2015 when government forces killed around 350 people in a storming of its compound and a nearby mosque. He has not been released despite a court order to that effect, and the IMN said his detention is illegal.

Zakzaky’s lawyers have said that while in detention, Zakzaky lost an eye to advanced glaucoma and risks losing the other, while shrapnel lodged in his body since the 2015 storming of the IMN compound was causing lead poisoning.

The government says IMN incites violence, and a court has given the authorities permission to label it a terrorist organization. IMN denies it is violent, and says Zakzaky should be released in line with a December 2016 court order.

IMN is the largest Shi’ite organization in a country where around half of the population is Muslim, overwhelmingly Sunni.

Nigeria considers some Islamist movements to be a security threat after a decade combating the insurgency by Sunni Muslim militant group Boko Haram in which 30,000 people have been killed. The death of Boko Haram’s leader in custody was one of the events that set that group on a violent path.

Yetunde Adegoke

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