Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismisses the claim that it has replaced the country’s ambassador to Nigeria over his support for jailed Shia leader Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky and his followers.
The Foreign Ministry’s reaction came on Thursday night, refuting an allegation originally “raised by certain Wahhabi-affiliated movements in Western Africa as part of their anti-Iran propaganda.”
“The former ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran [to Nigeria] returned to Iran in June 2016 after the end of his 4.5-year mission, and the incumbent ambassador has been based in the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Abuja since July 2016,” the statement added.
Sheikh Zakzaky, a prominent Shia leader, has been in detention along with his wife for close to four years despite the deterioration of his health conditions.
Back on August 5, a court granted him bail to seek medical treatment in India. However, the Kaduna state government later issued what it called terms of agreement for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife, delaying the release ordered by the court.
Zakzaky’s supporters on Thursday took to the streets of Abuja to protest against the delay in releasing the top cleric, but quickly dispersed in order to avoid crackdown by security forces who were rushing to the scene to launch attacks.
The cleric’s lawyer has denounced the terms of agreement of the Kaduna state government, saying the Department of State Services has already announced on behalf of the Nigerian government that it will obey the order of the court which has granted medical bail to the cleric and his wife.
Soldiers of the Nigerian army attacked the cleric’s residence back in December 2015 in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria, killing hundreds of his supporters.