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Lai Mohammed, minister of information, culture and tourism, says Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, is not in detention as widely perceived.
He said the Islamic leader is currently staying with his family in a house built for them by the federal government.
Mohammed made this known while speaking on a Channels TV programme on Thursday.
El-Zakzaky has been in custody for years despite court orders for his release.
But the minister said there is no place to release El-Zakzaky to as “nobody wants to accept him as a neighbour”.
“There is a lot of deliberate misunderstanding on El-Zakzaky’s issue,” he said.
“If a judgment is given and that judgment is appealed, you cannot accuse the government of violating a court order if the appeal has not been decided.
“Also, in the case of El-Zakzaky, how many Nigerians know that El Zakzaky is actually not in prison custody nor police custody nor DSS custody? El-Zakzaky is in a house with his family, this is the honest truth.
“The court ruled that he will be released after his house has been rebuilt. Nobody wants to accept El-Zakzaky as a neighbor. So we have been able to build a house, where do we release him to.”
The minister further said that Acting President Yemi Osinbajo maintains constant communication with President Muhammadu Buhari who is away in the UK on medical vacation.
“The acting president is daily in touch with Mr. President so I am very confident that Mr. President is in the full know of what the acting president is doing,” he added.
“And there is so much trust between the acting president and the president; I don’t think that should be an area of concern at all.”
He said although he hasn’t spoken with Buhari since he left the country, the most authentic news about the president’s health is from Aisha, his wife.
“The president made it clear when he was leaving that the length of his stay will be determined by his doctors,” he said, adding that “the wife came back last week and said the president is recovering very fast… I think that is the best we can say now”.
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