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Nigeria's Shia leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky acquitted and freed

  • 2021-07-29 06:40:39
  • News

A high court in the northern Nigeria has acquitted the leader of a banned Shia Muslim group and his wife who had both been charged with inciting violence and unlawful assembly.

Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, 68, leads the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and was detained in 2015 along with his wife Zeenah.

Their arrests followed deadly violence between IMN followers and the security forces in the city of Zaria in Kaduna state.

The couple were released after the court dismissed the charges brought by the Kaduna state government.

During the unrest in 2015, rights groups say more than 300 of Sheikh Zakzaky’s followers were killed during a military crackdown.

The army alleges it was forced to retaliate after IMN members - who were attending a religious ceremony in Zaria - attacked the convoy of the military chief of staff.

IMN was banned while Sheikh Zakzaky was in custody following weeks of protests by his supporters in 2019 who were demanding his release.

Shias make up a small minority in predominantly Sunni Muslim northern Nigeria.