You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Nigerian Shiite leader granted bail for medical care in India: lawyer

AFP logoAFP 05/08/2019 afp.com

A Nigerian court on Monday granted bail to a detained Shiite leader, whose case has sparked bloody protests, so that he can fly to India for medical care, his lawyer said.

Ibrahim Zakzaky, the founder of the outlawed pro-Iranian Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), has been in detention along with his wife Zeenah Ibrahim since their arrest in December 2015.

"The judge has ordered that Zakzaky be flown to India for proper medical attention," Femi Falana told AFP. 

Iranians and Nigerian students hold up posters of Nigerian Sheikh Ayatollah Ibrahim Zakzaky during a demonstration outside the Nigerian embassy in Tehran on July 17, 2019. © STR/AFP/Getty Images Iranians and Nigerian students hold up posters of Nigerian Sheikh Ayatollah Ibrahim Zakzaky during a demonstration outside the Nigerian embassy in Tehran on July 17, 2019.

A member of the defence team said his wife was also allowed abroad for treatment. 

The ruling could help defuse spiralling tensions with the group after the government banned it late last month on "terrorism" grounds after a spate of deadly clashes. 

But the authorities have already ignored previous court orders to release Zakzaky.

Prosecutors told AFP officials were studying the latest decision to see whether to appeal. 

Falana said the Shiite leader and his wife did not attend Monday's hearing in in the northern city of Kaduna because of their poor health.

"They were too sick to be physically present in court," Falana told AFP, adding that necessary legal documents would have to be signed before they could be released. 

Zakzaky, who is believed to be aged in his mid-sixties, was arrested in 2015 after violence that rights groups say saw the army kill some 350 of his followers and bury many in mass graves.

Related slideshow: 10 best and 10 worst medical procedures to have done overseas (Provided by GoBankingRates)

Supporters have been holding almost daily protests in the capital Abuja pushing for his release amid fears over his deteriorating health. 

At least eight people, including six protesters, a senior police officer and a trainee journalist, were killed during protests on July 22.    

Zakzaky's lawyers say he has lost the sight in one eye and was on the verge of going blind in the other, while he had some bullet fragments lodged in his body from the 2015 crackdown.

A court in 2016 ordered Zakzaky and his wife released -- but the authorities refused and filed charges against him including homicide. 

Zakzaky and the IMN, which was founded as a student group in the 1970s, have been at loggerheads with the government for years because of his call for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

Related slideshow: Facts about world religions (Provided by Photo services)

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon