According to Vanguard, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, was recently flown out of the country for treatment after the gunshot injuries he sustained during the encounter between his supporters and members of the Nigerian Army last year.
Recall, the fracas between the Shiites and the Nigerian Army occurred when members of the sect allegedly blocked the Zaria-Sokoto road and prevented the convoy of the Chief of Army staff from passing through, despite several entreaties.
Sheikh El-Zakzaky allegedly sustained several gun shot wounds, with some reports claiming that one of his eyes was affected during the encounter.
Since the clash between the sect and the military, his whereabouts have been shrouded in secrecy until Vanguard exclusively revealed that he was moved from Kaduna to a safe house in Abuja belonging to one of the security services.
Several security sources who are knowledgeable in the matter, however, revealed to Vanguard yesterday that due to the seriousness of the injuries the Shiite leader sustained, he was secretly flown to France by the Nigerian government some weeks ago for treatment before being returned to the country two weeks ago.
One of the sources said: “It is true that the federal government flew him out of the country for treatment. He was stabilized before he was brought back to Nigeria. The government did not want to take chances by keeping him in the country. We did not want a repeat of the incidenct with the late leader of the Boko Haram movement whose death in custody exacerbated the crisis in the North East.”
Another source explained that the decision to fly El Zakzaky out of the country followed intervention by highly placed Nigerians, including the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, who warned that allowing the Shiite leader to die in custody would have grave implications for the security of the country.
Spokesman of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim Musa, confirmed to Vanguard that members of the NSCIA committee confirmed to the IMN that their leader was alive, after being treated for gun shot injuries in France and was recuperating in Abuja.