February 22, 2024

Photos: El-Zakzaky returns to Nigeria, vows to continue mission

Photos: El-Zakzaky returns to Nigeria, vows to continue mission

By Luminous Jannamike

After spending five months receiving medical treatment in Iran, the supreme leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenah, have returned to Abuja.

The Shi’ite leader was warmly received by thousands of jubilant supporters at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport before proceeding to the Moshood Abiola Stadium for a grand reception.

This marked his first major public appearance since his release from Kaduna prison in July 2021, signifying a pivotal moment for both him and his followers.

Addressing the sea of supporters, Sheikh Zakzaky expressed profound gratitude for the warm welcome and took the opportunity to share updates about his health following the medical trip.

“We are better than we were, even though we have not completed our treatment. Perhaps, after six months, we may have to go back for the continuation of the next stage of treatment. We are very happy that we are back safely,” he mentioned, shedding light on his ongoing recovery process.

Reflecting on the journey, Zakzaky recounted the memorable aspects of his trip, including his meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution. 

This encounter, among others, appears to have fortified his resolve to continue his work in Nigeria and emphasized his determination to persevere despite previous governmental opposition.

“We will continue what has been started (revivalist Islam). Nothing has stopped. You know the attempt by the last regime was to silence us once and for all, but they could see that we have continued with our activities all through their eight years of tyrannical rule,” Zakzaky declared. 

The Sheikh’s unwavering stance and his first significant interaction with his followers since being acquitted by the High Court of Kaduna State of all charges in 2021 painted a picture of resilience.

His and his wife’s arrest followed an attack by the Nigerian Army on their residence in December 2015, which led to the tragic loss of about a thousand of his followers, including family members.

After enduring nearly six years of detention, the couple’s freedom in 2021 and the subsequent return of their travel documents in October 2023 by the federal government, under Bola Ahmad Tinubu, enabled them to seek the necessary medical treatment abroad.

The grand reception symbolised a rejuvenated spirit among his supporters and a reaffirmation of his role in Nigeria’s socio-political landscape.