Accused of plotting to assassinate General Tukur Buratai, Sheikh Ibraheem al-Zakzaky was detained by the Nigerian army in December 2015, and now Iran is pushing for the release of the prominent Shia cleric. “We have used all those channels to warn them [Nigeria] regarding this issue. So hopefully the government... would adopt wise action given the sensitive situation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi-Ansari told reporters in Tehran today [Jan 4].
As the Nigerian army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) clashed in the city of Zaria, Sheikh Zakzaky was arrested and photographs of his bloodied face were circulated on social media.
His supporters claim the army destroyed the IMN headquarters, a religious shrine and the Zakzaky home. Protests broke out after it was alleged that the Nigerian army killed hundreds of Shia Muslims in Zaria. Later, Human Rights Watch estimated that the Nigerian army killed 300 members of the Shiite movement and buried them in mass graves. The Nigerian army denies these allegations.
Iran is home to many Shia followers and they have repeatedly condemned the actions of the Nigerian military in the killing of scores of Shi’ites in Zaria late last year. Saudi Arabia supports Nigeria’s actions against the Shi’ite, calling it a right step in the fight against terrorism.