The detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, was tricked by the Department of State Services, DSS, to make an appearance before the media to douse tension over his rumoured death, his lawyer has said.
The lawyer, Femi Falana, said Mr. El-Zakzaky, who made a brief media appearance on Saturday, was clearly ill despite DSS claims that he was in good health.
The Shiite leader has been in detention for more than two years without trial, despite a court order directing his release.
Mr. Falana said he had asked the federal government to release the IMN leader and his wife for medical attention after rumours of Mr. Zakzaky’s death.
“Instead of acceding to my request the State Security Service misinformed Sheik El-Zakzaky and his wife of the readiness of the Federal government to release them after a media parade to assure the Shia community that the Sheik is alive and well,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“Hence, they agreed to the media parade which lasted for one minute and 20 seconds (yesterday) in an undisclosed detention custody at Abuja.”
Mr. Falana gave more details about Mr. El-Zakzaky’s health, and also disclosed that his wife’s condition was worse.
“But contrary to the official claim that the Shiite leader is hale and hearty he is currently wearing a neck collar support which was procured for him when he fell sometime last December. That was when his personal doctor was allowed to examine him for the first time in his over two years detention period,” Mr. Falana said.
“Before the neck injury he had lost his left eye while the recommendation of eye specialists that he be flown abroad to save the right eye and prevent him from going totally blind has been ignored by the federal government.
“In fact, the medical state of his wife is by far worse than his. She has been subjected to excruciating pain as some of the bullets deposited in her body on December 14, 2015 during the military invasion of their home in Zaria have not been removed,” he said
“Hence, the organisers of the media parade deliberately prevented her from addressing the media representatives even though she was present at the so-called press conference,” he added.
Mr. Falana said despite media parade, the federal government should obey the substantive court order and release the cleric alongside his wife.
“Having paraded the couple before the media, albeit illegally, the federal government should immediately proceed to purge itself of the aggravated contempt of the Federal High Court by complying with the order for their release from the illegal custody of the State Security Service,” he added.
The IMN leader and his wife were arrested on December 14, 2015 in Zaria following a clampdown on Shiites by the Nigerian Army.
At least 347 members Shiites were killed and secretly buried in mass graves by the army.
A Federal High Court in Abuja in December 2016 ordered the release of Mr. Zakzaky and his wife. The government refused to obey the order.
Members of the IMN group have been staging series of processions across the northern states demanding their release.