The Federal Government has commenced negotiations with the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, over their demand for the release of their detained leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky who has been held in security custody since 2015, a source has claimed.
Online news outfit, daily Post says this development was confirmed on Thursday by a source within the top hierarchy of IMN in Abuja.
According to the source, the Federal Government has issued approval to mediators drawn from members of the diplomatic corps to meet with Sheikh El-Zakzaky with a view to resolving the impasse between the Muslim group and the Nigerian authorities.
“We have some negotiations going on behind the scenes through the intervention of some European countries who are interested in seeing the face-off between our group and the government resolved through dialogue.
“Members of the diplomatic corps here in Abuja have been working right round the clock to make resolving this matter a possibility. We have started interacting with the government in the background.
“The government, though reluctantly, has given some of the mediators in the matter concerning our movement necessary approval to meet with Sheikh El-Zakzaky so that progress can be made.
“The government is been persuaded to see reasons to stop the persecution of Sheikh El-Zakzaky and his followers,” the source told our correspondent.
Sheikh El-Zakzaky, who is in his mid-sixties, lost his left eye when security forces raided his home in Zaria Kaduna state more than three years ago.
The raid started after Shi’ites had a clash with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.Gen Tukur Buratai, during a procession on the streets of Kaduna.
His wife also sustained serious wounds while more than 300 of his followers and three of his sons were killed in the violence that ensued.
The cleric has been kept in custody along with his wife and a large number of his followers ever since.
El-Zakzky’s followers have been holding protests mainly in Abuja since 2015, calling for his immediate release.
The Government is yet to confirm such negotiation.