A Nigerian court has allowed the leader of Shia Muslim group, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, to seek medical leave in India after more than three years in custody.
“The judge has ordered that Zakzaky be flown to India for proper medical attention,” Sheikh Zakzaky’s lawyer Femi Falana told AFP on Monday.
Zakzaky, the founder of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.
During the brutal crackdown, three of his sons lost their lives, his wife sustained serious wounds, and some 350 of his followers were killed.
Since then, the government has been violently cracking down on the IMN and its members.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), based in London, said last month that the cleric’s health condition had further deteriorated, since he was reportedly poisoned in prison.
Supporters of Sheikh Zakzaky have been protesting on the streets of the capital, Abuja, for months calling for his release.
The court also ordered a delegation to accompany Sheikh Zakzaky to India to ensure he returns for trial after getting treatment.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which was founded four decades ago by Sheikh Zakzaky, welcomed the court’s decision as “a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity”.
It accused the Nigerian authorities of inflicting brutal wounds on Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenat Ibrahim, who have been in police custody since 2015.