The leader of Nigeria’s banned Shia Muslim group, who is in India for medical treatment under police protection, is suffering for lead and cadmium poisoning that may be from shrapnel in his body, his daughter has told the BBC.
Ibraheem Zakzaky was among hundreds of people arrested in 2015 after security forces stormed the headquarters of his the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and killed about 350 people.
He and his wife have been in custody ever since awaiting trial and arrived in India on Monday after being granted leave to seek medical treatment earlier this month.
The sheikh’s daughter Suhaila Zakzaky said that the poisoning may be as result of shrapnel in his body “from when he was shot in 2015 when the Nigerian arm raided our home”.
She added that her father had had an eye operation in Nigeria to remove shrapnel lodged in one of his eyes but his sight had been declining ever since.
Ms Zakzaky told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio she was concerned about his condition:
Quote Message: I am really worried… especially because of the lead and cadmium poisoning. His doctors say if he gets to a certain level his organs could start failing and that’s really scary because that means he could just die at any moment.”
This backs up a medical report received by an Indian Shia group offering to pay the IMN leader’s bills at Medanta Hospital. It told the BBC on Wednesday that the sheikh had been diagnosed with lead poisoning.
Ms Zakzaky said that she had spoken to her father on Wednesday morning and he was unhappy that armed police were outside his room and that he was not able to be treated by his own chosen doctors.
He no longer felt safe and might choose to leave, she said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s government has apologised to India for the sheikh’s “unruly behaviour”, the Premium Times reports.
The Nigerian paper has published its full statement, which says the IMN leader has been making unreasonable demands, wanting to move into a five-star hotel and demanding the removal of police protection provided by the Indian authorities.