The leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, popularly known as the Shiite group, Shiek Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has debunked rumours of his death.
El-Zakzaky spoke with a select group of journalists at the office of the Department of State Services in Abuja on Saturday.
It was his first appearance after his arrest two years ago by the army, following the clash between his followers and soldiers in Kaduna, in December 2015.
The meeting between him and journalists lasted for one minute and 20 seconds
Dressed in a white flowing gown with turban and a pair of glasses, El-Zakzaky thanked Nigerians for their prayers.
He also thanked the DSS for allowing him have access to his doctors, saying he was seriously sick last Monday.
He however said that his health condition had improved.
The short interaction between him and reporters goes thus:
Journalist: Good afternoon, sir
Sheikh El-Zakzaky: How are you?
Journalist: Can we have a word with you?
Sheikh El-Zakzaky: If they agree and allow me.
Journalist: How are you feeling now?
Sheik El-Zakzaky: It was severe on me on Monday, but subsequently, it started subsiding and for the first time, at least the security officials allowed me to see my own doctors. It was my own doctors who examined me. I used to be examined by security doctors. This time, I did not agree, and my own doctors came to examine me. I thank God that I am improving.
Journalist: Do you have anything to add?
Sheikh El-Zakzaky: I thank you for all your prayers
Journalist: Thank you, sir.
Sheikh ElZakzaky: Thanks.
A senior operative of the DSS, Mr. Nnannann Nnochirii, said the cleric was brought out to dispel the rumours that he had died in the custody of the security outfit.
Nnochirii said those behind the “dangerous rumours were mischief makers” who were ready to cause crisis in the country.
It will be recalled that followers of the detained Islamic leader had protested in Abuja last week, claiming that he had been killed.
The protest, which lasted for about two days, led to the arrest of some members of the sect by the police.
Teargas was used to disperse the followers as they marched through major streets in Abuja metropolis.
It will be recalled that a Federal High Court in Abuja had in December 2016, ordered the release of El-Zakzaky and his wife from the custody of the DSS.
The court also awarded them reparation of N50m and directed the Federal Government to provide temporary accommodation for them.
Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had in a letter dated November 7, 2017, addressed to the President, asked for the release of the Islamic leader.
Falana, in the letter, said that the court ordered the payment for damages caused to the couple and for the provision of temporary accommodation for them “since it was established that the Nigerian Army and the Kaduna State government had burnt and demolished their private residence located at Zaria in Kaduna State.”