The present imbroglio between the Federal Government and leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem El-Zakzaky seems to have taken what appears a treacherous turn as the ailing leader of the banned Shiite group who traveled to India for medical reasons returned home without being treated amid controversies.
Earlier this month, on August 5, specifically a high court in Abuja granted the couple (El-Zakzaky and wife, Zeenat) leave to travel to India for medical treatment, but on the condition that they must be accompanied by a government security escort.
As expected, the journey to India was well reported and hopes were high with great expectations until the bombshell from El-Zakzaky barely two days that his movement was a decoy by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to exterminate him.
El-Zakzaky, who spoke in an audio message that went viral, had accused the Federal Government of frustrating his treatment in India.
He said the situation at the hospital was “pathetic and worrisome”, raising the alarm that the management of Medanta Hospital, where he was taken to was threatened not to admit him for treatment.
“The hospital officials received us well; they told us that they parked two ambulances, deceiving the crowd while taking us out through another way, saying it was for our own safety. On getting to the hospital, we were placed under a tighter security situation worse than what we have witnessed in Nigeria. We were confined than when we were in Nigeria, worse than a prison setting.
“Contrary to what was agreed before our arrival, that our own personal doctors would supervise this treatment they changed the arrangement,” he claimed.
He said that he solicited to return to Nigeria to source a reliable and trusted hospital among those countries that offered him help.
“There are some other countries that volunteered to help which include Malaysia, Turkey,” he noted.
But the Federal Government in a statement had countered claims of the IMN leader that he was being treated like a criminal under heavy security surveillance in India.
The statement revealed that what led to the standoff was that El-Zakzaky was requesting to be allowed to check into a five-star hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital, and also demanding that the police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities, as well as demanding for free movement and access to visitors of all kinds.
“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 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,” the government said.
But the IMN spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, said that the Buhari administration was bent on executing their leader, revealing that their El-Zakzaky was asked to be treated by Nigerian government-approved doctors or return to Nigeria within two hours.
According to him, “the facts are that the government mischievously went beyond its role of supervision to the level of maliciously interfering in the medical process, instructing on which doctors the Sheikh and his wife must see, while refusing to allow them access to their own doctors. Apparently, the government had a hidden mission, the details of which they had detailed specific doctors to execute. The Sheikh was forced to either accept their choice or return home within two hours.
“Being mindful of the government’s various previous plots to eliminate him since 2015, first through the barrels of the gun and much later through poisoning in detention while refusing him access to adequate medical care until the court’s intervention, the Sheikh sensed the government’s intention of inducing killer doctors to finish what they had earlier started, now through the back door.”
Commenting on the situation, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) expressed concerns about El-Zakzaky’s treatment in India, accusing the Indian government of becoming an enforcer for the Nigerian government.
It alleged that the United States government through its embassy in India told the hospital management not to admit the Shiite leader in the first place.
But, John Campbell, writing from the Council on Foreign Relations (New York), dismissed as false the purported U.S involvement in El-Zakzaky/Indian stand-off.
He said that there was no iota of truth on the claim, saying that it was rather only convenient to the purveyors as a misleading tool.
According to Campbell, “not only is there no credible evidence of any American involvement in Zakzaky’s travel to India for medical treatment and his subsequent return, it is hard to think of anything less probable.
“The United States has no interests at stake in the nature of Zakzaky’s treatment. However, the notion that the United States has somehow manipulated the situation so that Zakzaky has not received the medical treatment he needs and deserves has become an urban legend in some Nigerian circles.”
Moving forward, legal expert, Monday Ubani, told Sunday Sun that the next line of action was to resume again in the court so that the court would look into the various claims of all the parties.
“El-Zakzaky was granted leave to go to India for medical treatment. When he got there he said he preferred to come back to Nigeria that the condition in which he is being treated in India is not very conducive. He said he feels more relaxed at home in Nigeria than in India. So, on his own volition, he came back to Nigeria, they didn’t grant him bail, which many people did not understand.
“He was denied bail, but the court granted him leave for medical treatment, basically in India, so there is no way he can go elsewhere apart from India. The implication is that that medical treatment has not been executed, so, they have to go back to the court to inform the court what has transpired and from there if there are other applications before the court with regards to him then the court will be able to make a pronouncement, but pending the time the matter comes to the court again, it’s going back to status quo. They have taken him back to custody, so they have to wait for the next hearing to know what will be the proceedings.
“We were told he was making a request for a five-star hotel, so nobody knows the real reasons he came back, so it is important we get to know what will be the proceedings before the court because nobody knows which version of the story to believe whether his own side of the story or that of the Federal Government. So, it is in the next hearing date when the case comes before the court, it’s only then the court will get to know what actually transpired and then the court will make a pronouncement. But one thing that is clear is that he wasn’t granted bail, what he was granted was the medical treatment,” he pointed out.
Another respected legal voice, Wale Ogunade corroborated what Ubani said as he agreed that it is only the law court that can establish the truth in the claims by each party.
He, however, charged the Shiite leader to be open as some of his actions pointed more of pranks rather than being factual.
Ogunade told Sunday Sun that “the first story is that the man may not be sick, maybe, he is just playing pranks. If you are sick the first thing is that you want to be alive not that you will be giving conditions. If you need medical attention, even if it is your enemy that wants to treat you, if you are really sick you will relax and care less and get back to life first.
“He was the one that made the choice that he wanted to be treated in India, now they took him to India and he said the condition was not good for him.
As we heard from the government, the story is that he was requesting to be put in a five-star hotel, but that is not the issue for me, but did you really see him when he came back? He walked into the car; he was not on a wheelchair so that stirred up something in my mind.
“For me, there is no reason playing a prank, he can just see how he can mellow down. If he wants to be the government let him contest an election and if Nigerians like him they will vote for him rather than what we are getting from him. You can’t run a government of your own just like that when there is a sitting government.
“I have been a victim of his followers’ activities in Zaria and it was not a good experience to remember. In Zaria, if his group comes out, it’s like a swarm of bees on the road, they will just occupy everywhere and begin to disturb others, you can’t pass through the road and it’s a bad experience. They need to look into their conduct.
“The next line of action is that they will now go back to the court for the court to see if they will uphold the claim for them to give him another opportunity”.
When contacted on phone, respected legal luminary, Femi Falana, who is also the legal counsel to El-Zakzaky told Sunday Sun that he has not concluded his next legal move until after his meeting with his client, likely this weekend.
But he is optimistic that they would meet in court soon.