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Nigerian forces attack protesters calling for top Shia cleric’s release

Nigerian government forces have attacked protesters calling for the release of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, killing at least one person.

The protester was killed on Sunday in the northwestern state of Kaduna amid widespread demonstrations which were held in over 50 separate locations.

The demonstrators were calling on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to release the Shia cleric.

Earlier in the day, the IMN called on Buhari to release Zakzaky (seen below) so he could seek medical attention for a stroke that he had recently suffered.

“From a rare visit to our leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, it has been confirmed to us that his health has suffered a severe knock in the past two days, such that he is critically ill and in urgent need of the best medical attention possible,” said a statement released by the IMN. “It seems those holding our leader captive, are just waiting for time to kill him.”    

Zakzaky lost his left eye sight in the raid, which was carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria back in December 2015.

During the raid, Zakzaky’s wife sustained serious wounds too and more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed. Zakzaky, his wife, and a large number of the cleric’s followers have since been in custody.

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The clergyman is said to have been charged with “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.”

“The Islamic Movement do hereby unequivocally call on the federal government to listen to the voice of reason and release our leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky to go and look after his failing health. It is foolhardy for the government while being contemptuous of a court order releasing him; he is denied access to a better health care,” added the IMN statement.

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