The spiritual leader of Shiites, Sheil Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015 has denied social media reports that he was dead.

The 68-year-old leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria IMN) said from his detention that he is hale and hearty.

El-Zakzaky, made his first public appearance at the headquarters of the Department of State Services (DSS) on Saturday since his detention.

Shiites had a major confrontation with troops of the Nigeria Army in the middle of December 2015 in Zaria, leading to the death of many sect members.

The sect had in July 2014 similarly encountered the military and three of El-Zakzaky children were among those cut down in the violence.

The Kaduna state had probed the fracas which resulted in the issuance of a Gazette proscribing Shiites Islamic sect.

Zakzaky told journalists on Saturday at the DSS headquarters in Abuja that he was well and he thanked Nigerians for sustaining his life with endless prayers.

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“It was severe on me on Monday but subsequently it started subsiding and for the first time at least the security allowed me to see my own doctor.

“So it was my own doctors who examined me. Before I used to be examined by the security doctors, but this time I did not agree, and my own doctors came to examine me. I am getting better, thanks for all your prayers.”

Explaining the reasons for showing him to the public with his wife, the spokesperson of DSS, Mr. Nnanna Nnochiri, said that it was basically to dispel his death rumour.

“In the last two days, there was unfounded rumour spreading across Nigeria that the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky passed on in the custody of the service.

“However, as you can see, and from your interview with him, he pointedly told you that he is okay.

“That will settle all the doubting Thomases across the country and those who wanted to capitalise on the said rumour to forment trouble in the country.

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“They can now see that the man is alive, hale and hearty and up and doing.

“You saw him with his wife and the fact was that some people wanted to take advantage of some developments in some parts of the country to make trouble and mobilise the people to engage in untoward activities, which can impact very negatively on the security, stability, and order of the nation.

“The fact is, now that they have seen that the man is alive and that nothing happened to him, we want to believe that such persons who ab-initio have planned to take advantage of such situation should desist from every plan or act they may have put in place.

“For us, Nigeria must remain peaceful, stable and trust in the government and security agencies to provide the enabling environment to allow residents, citizens and everyone as far as you are law abiding to pursue their legitimate businesses.’’

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He said that DSS was appealing to everyone to be peace-loving and to go about their normal businesses and report any negative and suspicious developments in their neighbourhood.

“We are at alert and we will continue to execute our mandate and responsibilities according to law. We implore everyone that we need partnership of all to cooperate with us to ensure that there is peace,” he appealed.