Leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, has recounted the dreadful clash with Nigerian Army that almost cost him and his wife their lives, five years ago.
The Islamic cleric said that bullet fragments are still lodged in his body and that of his wife, following the ugly experience that left a huge number of his followers dead.
El-Zakzaky spoke at a press conference in remembrance of the killing of some of his members in 2016.
He said: “My wife has a full bullet lodged in her body which doctors have been unable to remove here. But experts from outside the country promise that they can do such.
“In addition to that, she has, for the past five years (since July 2016), been chair-bound. She can only walk using a wheelchair and she prays sitting in a chair.
“They know that she needs knee replacement. But if they do knee replacement in this county, it may take the patient about three months before they could walk; but somewhere else, it may take less than a week. After three days, the patient could be able to walk.
“I have fragments of bullets scattered all over my body and they are secreting poison – lead, cadmium and other poisons. And with the recommendation of doctors here, including government doctors, I need what they call ‘chelating therapy’ which will remove the poisons.
“But the fragments also have to be removed, which doctors here say they cannot remove because they are very tiny and moving around my body.”
The cleric said that after he and his wife were released, they had expected that in a matter of weeks, they would have the opportunity to travel abroad for medical attention.
“But up to now, they have not allowed us to do that. Of course, after about two months, I had my first interview with Press TV through Skype with their headquarters in Tehran which was aired. And, of course, there have been so many press releases which our people have been releasing from time to time, giving you updates about the issues of our passports, our health and so on.
“And you have done very well. Thank you so much for airing all this and publicising it. Both print and electronic media have circulated all these things,” he said.
On Zaria massacre in 2016, El-Zakzaky said: “This is an occasion where we remember the Zaria massacre, which happened exactly six years ago. It happened on the 12th, 13th and 14th of December, 2016 – three days consecutively.
“Soldiers of the Nigerian Army had cordoned off Zaria town, all the roads leading to the town and they carried out a systematic killing of people they considered unwanted. Whatever name they gave us at that time, they were said to be clearing people called ‘Shiites’.
“In fact, in Gyallesu, my residence in Zaria, they were asking about whomever they wanted to shoot, ‘Is he Shia?’ And the crowd would say yes and they would fire. And if the crowd said no, they would allow the person to go. So, clearly, they were saying that they were destroying Shia once and for all.
“On the 14th of that month, they reached me and opened fire on us – me and my family, instantly killing three of my sons in front of me and injuring me, my wife and some others who were with us.
“Luckily enough, for the wisdom of God, we didn’t know why, but He so designed it that my wife and I would survive a shooting that nobody could survive. God is able to do anything He wishes.
“On the 15th of December, exactly a day like this, they brought us to Abuja, first to the military hospital and later, at 12 midnight (that would be 16th of December), they changed hospitals, from military hospital to DSS hospital, for some time and then they kept us in their custody for some years. Then they took us back to Kaduna (still in their custody).
“And finally, they took us to prison and as you all know, at the end of the day, the court found us innocent and discharged and acquitted us in the same way three different courts had discharged and acquitted so many others who were arraigned before them for the same charges as ours.”