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PRESS RELEASEBY IHRC – Nigeria: Allow detained IMN leader access to medical treatment immediately

IHRC is calling on the Nigerian authorities to allow the detained leader of the country’s Islamic Movement to access urgently needed medical attention without delay.

The fresh call comes as concerns mount over the health of Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky after more than nine months in custody without charge along with his wife Zeenah.

Both suffered gunshot wounds after a savage military assault against the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) last December. Sheikh Zakzaky has already lost the use of an arm and one of his eyes and there is a real risk he could lose his sight completely if he doesn’t receive the necessary medical treatment.

Despite repeated requests by the Sheikh’s legal team, Nigeria’s domestic intelligence agency (DSS) which is holding the sheikh, has refused to let him have access to doctors.

IMN members report the condition of the pair as ‘dire’.

The military attack between December 12-14 in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria left more than 1000 people dead and many properties and religious spaces belonging to the IMN and its members destroyed.

Representations to the UN and previous calls on the Nigerian government to free the couple including a recent demonstration in Kaduna city attended by hundreds of thousands of protestors have so far fallen on deaf ears.

IHRC holds the Nigerian government directly responsible for the deteriorating health of the couple. The pair are being held mostly incommunicado, against due process and in contravention of Nigerian and international law.

IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: "The treatment of the Zakzakys has become a stain on the reputation of the Buhari government and the international community. Their continued detention and the denial of medical care is an affront to all civilised norms and standards of justice. We call on the authorities to allow them the freedom to receive medical treatment and to unconditionally and immediately release them from custody."

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In March 2016 IHRC petitioned the International Criminal Court to to open a preliminary inquiry into the December 2015 massacre of IMN members.