The Iranian government has officially requested for the transfer of detained Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky to Tehran for medical treatment.
Backdrop: Iran’s Prosecutor-General (Attorney-General), Mohammed Montazeri in his letter to local news organisation urged the Nigerian judiciary to release El-Zakzaky. This is ahead of an expected Monday, July 29 ruling by a Kaduna court that would determine if the IMN leader can be flown abroad to obtain medical care.
What he said (in part):
- “I, as the prosecutor general of the Islamic Republic of Iran, urge the Nigerian judicial authorities (to take steps) in line with their judicial independence and support for a captive citizen, and provide the ground for his release and transfer him to the Islamic Republic of Iran for treatment.”
Why it matters: Iran views the IMN as an outpost for its influence building operations in Africa, which is essentially anti-America and anti-Israel. For years, Iran has tacitly supported the IMN and built trust with El-Zakzaky. This situation according to some analysts, is a cause of concern for Iran as it fears losing control (which it holds through El-Zakzaky) over the sect in the event that it is taken over by more radical preachers who are waiting in the wings.
This is becoming more likely. The protests by members of the IMN sect have become more intense lately. We have witnessed the deaths of many people including the Shia protesters themselves, about two security operatives and a journalist. TheScoop’s defense analysts are of the view that continued state violence against the sect might lead to deliberate arms mobilisation by the sect. This would change the dynamics of the situation and definitely exacerbate the violence. Already, the use of petrol bombs by the sect has become a thing, with the recent torching of a fire station belonging to the National Emergency Management Agency.
Likewise, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for dialogue, warning that the current confrontations could lead to “monumental human rights and humanitarian crises.”
Bottomline: Expectations have now turned to the expected ruling on the bail application which will hold on Monday, July 29.