Tehran voices hope to resolve Sheikh Zakzaky’s problems

December 8, 2019 - 18:51

TEHRAN – Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has voiced hope that diplomatic meetings between Iran and Nigeria would expedite the resolution of the problems faced by top Shiite cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky.

Mousavi made the comments on Sunday in response to a question asked by reporters about the latest conditions of Sheikh Zakzaky, according to the Foreign Ministry website.

He was asked to comment on a recent meeting between the Iranian Vice President for Economic Affairs and the Nigerian president on the sidelines of a summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Equatorial Guinea.

“In the recent meeting between Dr. Nahavandian and the President of Nigeria, Mr. Buhari, various subjects have been mooted in the area of economic relations, the regional and international developments, as well as the issue of Sheikh Zakzaky,” he responded.

“Moreover, in the constant diplomatic meetings and contacts that we hold with 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,” Mousavi added.

Sheikh Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eyesight when Nigerian government forces raided the northern town of Zaria more than three years ago. His wife also sustained serious wounds while more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed in the violence.

The cleric has been kept in custody along his wife and a large number of his followers ever since.

Back 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.

Nigerian authorities on Thursday transferred Zakzaky and his wife to a dilapidated prison, where many detainees have so far died due to lack of medical attention.

A high court ordered the Department of State Services to transfer the two to the Correctional Center in Kaduna state, northwest of the country.

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) say any attempt to take the couple anywhere other than a hospital will put them in further jeopardy.