The government official who spoke yesterday in Abuja said the withdrawal was sequel to the “secret engagements, discreet contacts and cultivations” by the Nigerian and Iranian governments officials in the last one year.
According to the official who does not want his name in print said the engagements was initiated and facilitated between the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the High Command and Supreme Leadership Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The source added that the engagements with both governments were centred on how to contain and manage “the violence, menace and confrontations of IMN” led by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
He also revealed that series of meetings between the Federal Government intelligence officials and officials of Rasuul Aaazam Foundation, (RAAF), a Shia group in Nigeria, led to the breakthrough.
The source explained that the RAAF group which operates under the leadership of Hujjatul Islam, Sheikh Muhammad Nur Dass with its headquarters in Kano and branches all over northern Nigeria, noting that Dass is the highest ranking Shia cleric in Nigeria with mandate to adjudicate religious and temporal issues in the Ja’afari Shia School.
The source also said that a senior Iranian cleric, Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani, the “Ephemeral Tehran Friday Prayer Imam’’, condemned the killings and urged clerics to step in to avoid further clashes and bloodshed.
He said that after the incident, Dass stepped up his intervention, first by declaring support for President Buhari, and called on Shia adherents to eschew violence and confrontation with constituted authority, adding that over the last 30 years, El-Zakzaky’s IMN had been seen as a vehicle for projecting Iranian foreign policy with demonstrations and burning of American and Israeli flags.
He, however, said the resolve by the Iranian regime to distance itself from IMN and El-Zakzaky “will certainly improve its relations with Nigeria.”