Nigerian authorities have finally allowed imprisoned Shia cleric Sheikh Zakzaky to travel to India for medical treatment, after his imprisonment for almost four years brought on massive protests from supporters who accuse the Nigerian state of grave human rights abuses.
The Nigerian court that allowed his travel also ordered a special delegation to travel with him to India, to ensure his return to Nigeria for trial after his medical treatment is finished.
Sheikh Zakzaky has been held in custody since 2015 after Nigerian forces arrested him and his wife during protests that saw more than 350 people killed. As the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Zakzaky heads a non-violent religious and political movement that was founded in the 1970s with both Shia and Sunni followers.
The Nigerian government views both Sheikh Zakzaky and the IMN as extremists who propagate separatist and divisive rhetoric, something both Zakzaky and supporters of IMN adamantly deny.
During his arrest, Sheikh Zakzaky reportedly suffered grave injuries and has since suffered two strokes and severe vision loss according to his surviving family members and supporters. Much of the protests seen across Abuja and the Western world have been for his immediate release from the Nigerian authorities in order for him to receive emergency medical treatment.
Although some have expressed relief at the decision to allow the Sheikh’s travel to India, many are still wary and doubtful at what will happen when Zakzaky returns to Nigeria for trial under what many are calling a repressive Nigerian state.