Nigerian authorities silent on Sheikh Zakzaky wife's health
Authorities of the Nigerian prison in Kaduna State where Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife are detained, say they are not aware that the wife of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) tested positive for COVID-19.
The statement came after the IMN called for the release of MallimahZeenat after her son announced she has tested positive for Covid-19.
Given Mallimah’s underlying medical conditions and her age, her infection places her at heightened risk of severe illness and/or death. Sheikh Zakzaky himself suffers from many underlying conditions which put him at high risk of developing life-threatening symptoms should he contract the virus.
But controller of Kaduna Correctional Service, Ibrahim Maradun, said he has yet to receive test results after a sample was taken on Wednesday by officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
He said Zeenat had been in isolation since the sample was taken, DailyTrust reports.
"As far as I am concerned, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) officials took her sample on Wednesday around 5 pm and I am yet to receive the result," he said.
"She has been in isolation since the day. Her personal physician has been seeing her from time to time in the company of the doctors representing the state and the correctional service."
Overcrowding in Nigeria’s jails, which currently operate at over 150 per cent of capacity, has meant that the virus has spread rapidly within the prison population. Last summer the country released 7,813 inmates from its Correctional Service centers around the country to relieve pressure and help fight the raging pandemic.
Many of those released were freed under presidential pardons issued by Buhari. However, the president failed to act on a request by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) for the clemency to be extended to the Zakzakys.
Tthe couple have never been convicted of any crimes and are being held unlawfully in defiance of a 2017 court order ordering their release.
IHRC’s letters call for efforts to be made to release the pair immediately on humanitarian grounds so that they can receive the care and protection they urgently need.
What compounds the situation is that Mallimah and her husband should not be in custody in the first place. They are being tried for culpable homicide for allegedly being responsible for ordering violence that resulted in the death of a member of the security forces during a massacre by armed forces of supporters of the Islamic Movement in Zaria in December 2015.
However, despite the fact that over 1000 innocent supporters of the Islamic Movement were butchered in the attack, not a single official has been charged or brought to trial over the killings. The massacre is currently the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.
The couple are next due to appear in court on Monday 25 January. The length of time they have spent in custody since being arrested in 2015 reinforces the view that the Nigerian authorities are conducting a witch-hunt against the couple and abusing the judicial system in the hope that they will die quietly in custody.