A major diplomatic row is brewing between Nigerian and the Islamic Republic of Iran over the continued detention of the leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheik Ibraheem ZakZaky, by the former.
The religious leader has been in the custody of the Nigerian government since members of his sect clashed with the Nigerian military over their non-granting of passage of Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Burutai on the Zaria – Kaduna Road in Kaduna State on December 14.
The army led an early dawn raid on ZakZaky’s sprawling religious grounds in Zaria killing scores and later demolished the place.
The Iranian government on Monday said it has employed all diplomatic channels including warning the Nigerian government to release Shi’ite cleric but to no avail.
Speaking to journalists in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hoseyn Jaberi-Ansari, was quoted as saying, “We have used all those channels to warn them [Nigeria] regarding this issue. So hopefully the government… would adopt wise action given the sensitive situation.”
Iran is home to many Shia followers and they have repeatedly condemned the actions of the Nigerian military in the killing of scores of Shi’ites in Zaria late last year.
Saudi Arabia supports Nigeria’s actions against the Shi’ite, calling it a right step in the fight against terrorism.
The Kingdom on Sunday executed a vocal critic of the Saudi Royal family’s policies, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
The action led to the breakdown of diplomatic ties between the two countries with the Saudi embassy in Tehran torched by demonstrators while the Saudis issued a 46 hour notice for Iran’s embassy staff to leave the Kingdom.