Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, rumored to have died in detention, has made his first public appearance since he was illegally detained by security forces in 2015.
Zakzaky, who is in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS), told reporters in the capital Abuja on Saturday that he was alive and well.
He also thanked Nigerians for their prayers as well as the DSS for allowing him access to his doctors.
“For the first time at least the security (officers) have allowed me to see my own doctors,” he said, according to footage of the exchange. “I am getting better.”
“So it was my own doctors who examined me. Before I used to be examined by security doctors, this time I did not agree, and my own doctors came to examine me,” he said.
It was unclear under what circumstances Zakzaky gave the interview.
Rumors of his death spread on the Nigerian social media this week.
The top Shia cleric lost his left eyesight in a raid which was carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in the northern town of Zaria 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.
Despite the ruling of a Federal High Court, which ordered his unconditional release in 2016, the Nigerian government has refused to set him free.
Earlier this week, a UK-based NGO known as the Islamic Human Rights Commission, voiced concern over the health condition of the detained Muslim cleric.
The clergyman is said to have been charged with “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbances.”
Nigerian government forces open fire on demonstrators demanding the release of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky.
During the third day of consecutive protests on Tuesday, Nigerian government forces opened fire on demonstrators demanding the release of Zakzaky. One person was severely injured during clashes with Nigerian forces and another 50 people were detained in Abuja.
Nigerian sources told Press TV on Monday that at least two young students were killed by security forces during the ongoing protests in Kaduna which broke out on January 7.