Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, opened up on the controversy surrounding Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, medical sojourn in India.
It dismissed as ‘foul” the Sheik’s leader’s cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded.
The embattled leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), had, in the viral audio recording, claimed the condition at the Indian hospital he was taken to is worse than the infamous Kirikiri Prison in Lagos.
He was flown to India alongside his spouse, Zeenat, on Monday.
The cleric who spoke in Hausa, said the situation in India is “pathetic and worrisome.”
He claimed he was being treated like a criminal.
But in a statement entitled: ‘The true story on El-Zakzaky in India,’ the Federal Government denied the Cleric’s allegation.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu-Gekpe, recalled that the Court on August 5, 2019, granted El-Zakzaky leave to travel to India for medical treatment.
She said consequently, the government and its relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order.
In line with the court order, El-Zakzaky was granted approval to embark on the trip with state officials and his choice to be accompanied by his aides and personal doctors was not opposed by the government.
“On 12th August, 2019, he and other members of the entourage went to India via Dubai. It is to be noted that El-Zakzaky particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India. However, on reaching Dubai, El-Zakzaky began to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
“He requested that his passport be handed over to him, but the state officials would not budge to his pressure. The situation became worse in India as he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks.”
The Permanent Secretary said in addition, El-Zakzaky demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, as well as requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.
“The request was refused on the ground that he came into the country for medicals and not as a tourist (more so that his Visa was issued on medical grounds and not for tourism). He also demanded that Police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities.
“Against medical ethics and standard practice, he requested to nominate doctors of his choice to join the ones tasked by Medanta Hospital to perform medical treatment on him and his wife. This created a stalemate, which the hospital insisted that he would not dictate to it on the choice of medical personnel to carry the required medical treatment.
“Frustrated by his antics, the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return him to Nigeria with immediate effect. This is on the account that they will not allow him use their country to internationalize his group’s activities.
“Against this background, the Nigerian government wishes to commend the stand of the Indian government, as well as apologise to her for the unruly behaviour of El-Zakzaky. Similarly, the attention of the public and indeed the international community is hereby drawn to these unfortunate developments.”
Isu-Gekpe also affirmed government’s readiness to undertake the prosecution of El-Zakzaky through due process if and when he is returned to the country.
“On this note, his foul cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded,” Isu-Gekpe further said.
Similarly, the Indian government, has refuted El-Zakzaky’s allegation of ill treatment.
The Indian High Commission, while reacting to the development through its official, Dr. Garika Tejeswar, a Second Secretary, said such ultimatum, if any, did not emanate from the Indian Government.
“No such ultimatum from us. Medical treatment at reputed Indian hospitals is provided to consenting patients, as per medical norms,” Tejeswar said.
Tejeswar further said in cases of patients treated in India, protocol and safety steps are usually taken as necessary.
He, however, directed our reporter to approach the government of Nigeria for any further details on the case of El-Zakzaky.
Notwithstanding, IMN members, at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, insisted the life of their leaders was no longer safe at Madenta hospital in New Delhi, India.
They called on international community and people of conscience and humanity, especially those facilitated his travelling to India for treatment to prevail on the Federal Government and its ‘western masters to stop playing with his life his life, the American secret agents have threatened the hospital officials not to go ahead to treat the Sheikh at the hospital.
“It is mandatory for the Nigerian government to immediately do the needful and allow Sheikh Zakzaky to see his doctors and shun all interests of any entity that does not care for the well being of Nigeria and humanity at large,” he said.
The embattled El-Zakzaky had alleged that the condition at the Indian hospital he was taken to is worse than the infamous Kirikiri Prison in Lagos.
He accused the Federal Government of frustrating his medical treatment in India.
“All what we have seen here, have shown us that there is no trust, they just brought us here for another detention. I have been in detention for about thirteen years but I’ve never seen this kind of security that I’m seeing here, even at the door of my hospital room, there are many security personnel waiting, heavily armed.
“They didn’t even allow me to go to the next room, I started asking myself, all these while I’ve been in detention, I’ve never seen this type. Even if I’m in the cell, they usually lock us up around 9 p.m. and open the cell around 7 a.m. and they allow us to go anywhere we want in the area we are.
“Even Kirikiri prison will not affect me psychologically like this one. It will not be possible for us to come out of detention just to get medical attention and now find ourself in another form of detention.
“We won’t submit ourselves to people we don’t trust. There is a need for us to go back home since it has been agreed that we should travel out to get medical attention and India is not a place we can trust.
“There are other countries that have volunteered to take care of our treatment, some are Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. We can choose from amongst these three.”