By Gabriel Agbeja
Abuja, Aug. 16, 2019
Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), who left Nigeria on Monday, for medical treatment in India, returned to Nigeria on Friday.
The IMN leader, along with his wife, Zeenat, arrived via an Ethiopian Airline aircraft with registration number ET911, which landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at exactly 11.41 a.m.
An airport official, who pleaded anonymity, told anxious journalists at the new arrival terminal of the airport that El-Zakzaky had “passed through an alternative arrival terminal.”
“The man (El-Zakzaky), has arrived. He passed through another arrival terminal,” the official told newsmen.
However, Ibrahim Musa, President, Media Forum of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, said in a statement that security agents whisked the Islamic cleric away to an unknown destination upon his arrival in Abuja, lamenting the treatment that had been meted out to the man before his trip to India and during the trip, stressing that government should heed the courts that had since 2016 ruled that the man be released from detention. (Full text of the statement by the IMN spokesman is published below).
The Nigerian government, has, however, swiftly, given reasons why the Islamic cleric was bundled back to country, citing acts of misconduct, plot to seek asylum, contacts with foreign lawyers and Non Governmental Organisations, embarrassing the Nigerian and Indian governments and attempting to internationalise his movement for their action.
The government’s position was articulated by Mrs Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
The cleric, who is facing an 8-count charge of homicide in a case filed by the Kaduna State Government, was granted leave for medical treatment by a Kaduna High Court on Aug. 5.
El-Zakzaky and his wife subsequently travelled to India via Dubai, for medical treatment after the Federal Government and relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order in spite of protestation by Kaduna State Government.
However, the Federal Government in a statement on Wednesday said that the religious leader was frustrating the authorities of the Indian hospital where he was to be treated.
In the statement, “The true story on El-Zakzaky in India”, the government said that the cleric, who particularly chose Medanta Hospital, India for the treatment, had begun to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures.
The statement signed by Grace Isu Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, said that the cleric refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after State officials resisted his pressure to hand over his International Passport to him.
“He also demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, and also requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.
“That request was rejected on the ground that he came into the country for medicals, and not as a tourist, especially with the Visa 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.
“That demand created a stalemate as 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 internationalise his group’s activities.
“The Nigerian government commended the stand of the Indian Government and also apologise to her for the “unruly behaviour” of El-Zakzaky.
The statement affirmed government’s readiness to prosecute El-Zakzaky through due process, if and when he is returned to the country, urging Nigerians to ignore his claims that he was being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Government on Friday explained further, the circumstances that led to the “repatriation” of Sheik El-zakzaky from India.
Mrs. Gekpe, in her statement on Friday said the acts of misconduct exhibited by El-zakzaky in India necessitated his repatriation.
“First of all, it was El-zakzaky himself that chose the Medanta Hospital in India for his treatment; the Federal Government gave him the option to chose any hospital in the world and he chose Medanta.
“The public may note that El-zakzaky’s actions in India demonstrated malicious intents that were capable of embarrassing the governments of Nigeria and India.
“With total disrespect and complete loss of decorum for international procedures while in India, he initiated contacts with a team of lawyers led by Ali Zia Kabir Chaudary and Gunjan Singh in that country.
“He also contacted some Non-Governmental Organisations such as the Islamic Human Rights Commission and other Shiite groups. His aim was to seek asylum and eventually relocate to another country.
“It is important to note that if an Indian court had granted El-zakzaky asylum, it would have violated the Nigerian court order that granted him permission to travel for medical treatment,” Gekpe said.
According to her, El-zakzaky used the opportunity of being in India to attempt to internationalise his cause by mobilising the right groups.
She added that the most unfortunate and embarrassing was his quest to be relocated to a five-star hotel to receive visitors instead of being admitted in the hospital as a sick person he claimed to be.
Gekpe explained further that in spite of his misconduct, El-zakzaky’s spouse went further to antagonise the Indian and Nigerian security agents and accused them of killing her children.
“These acts were aimed at winning international sympathy as well as disparaging the Nigerian Government.
“Having subordinated the quest for medical treatment to other ulterior motives, it became obvious that El-zakzaky was focused on realising some sinister motives thus the decision to return him to Nigeria,” Gekpe stressed.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian Government and its relevant agencies took step to comply with the court that granted El-zakzaky leave to travel to India via Dubai for medical treatment.
According to reports, on reaching Dubai El-zakzaky began to display ulterior motives against laid down procedures requesting for his passport to be handed over to him, but state officials would not budge to his pressure.
Authorities said the situation became worse in India when he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks.
Full text of IMN statement
Sheikh Zakzaky Whisked Away by Security Operatives on Arrival in Abuja
As our leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky has landed safely at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport today, we wish to set the records straight in order to disabuse the minds of Nigerians from the false claims perpetrated in some sponsored stories and articles in the media concerning his aborted medical treatment in India.
However before we do that, we vehemently condemn the way the security agents whisked him away upon arrival without allowing the multitude of journalists that were waiting for him for hours to have a chat with him. We urge the security agency holding him hostage to declare to the public where they are keeping him in the country.
It is a well-known fact that the Nigerian authorities had tried all their antics to see that the Sheikh wasn’t given a medical leave. Distrustful of the Nigerian government’s offer of a jet to take him to the destination, having survived its attempts to poison and kill him while in detention, our leader Sheikh Zakzaky declined the offer and chose to pay for his trip through the Emirates Airline.
Their ordeal started right here in Nigeria when they were schedule to board the plane to Dubai. After a 2 hours’ drive from Kaduna to Nnamdi Azikiwe international Airport in Abuja, they were not given enough time to rest before boarding the plane. They endured an 8 hours flight to Dubai and another 3 hours flight to New Delhi. Under normal circumstances, as patients suffering life threatening ailments they shouldn’t have been subjected to such exhaustion. Nonetheless our leader and his wife endured the journey hoping that they will get good treatment when they reached New Delhi.
However, despite their need for rest, they were forcibly wheeled to a hospital on arrival without their personal physician that accompanied them from Nigeria. They were then subjected to physical examination in the absence of the doctors that initially examined them in Nigeria and when they requested for their presence, it was turned down. Another physician that came from London was also denied access to them despite his familiarity with the Sheikh’s case from Nigeria. It was at this point that Sheikh Zakzaky lost confidence in the whole process and refused any further attempt to have him forcibly treated.
Moreso, the Hospital compromised its independence and medical ethics, treating without obtaining consent of the patients. The health workers were further more interested in taking selfie with the Sheikh and posting on social media, thereby violating their privacies. When the Sheikh noticed some physical assault in addition to the background circumstances, he lost complete confidence in the hospital and demanded to see his own doctors for a substitute arrangement. It is well within every patient’s right to decide whether or not to be treated and to also decide who attends to his health. It is called giving of consent, which every sane autonomous person with capacity is entitled to. Contrary to the Nigerian government’s press statement, that misinformed that it was against “medical ethics and standard practice,” it is in fact at the very essence of medical ethics, which every elementary medical person knows.
The interference of the government raised suspicion that it was planning to kill the Sheikh in India using its international connections. He insisted that if he would not be allowed to see the doctors that brought him to India he would rather come back to Nigeria and seek another destination for his treatment. This became clear because of the government’s stance insisting on other doctors than the ones that he was in India to meet. They finally decided to bring him back for refusing to succumb to be treated by their chosen doctors.
It is worth noting that the Kaduna high court allowed the Sheikh to go to India with the government only supervising, instead the federal government presented him to the Indian government as a dangerous suspect with an unknown ailment coming to India and demanded stringent security placed on him. There was even a report that the security agents in India subjected him to physical assault.
It is glaringly clear that the Nigerian government had an ULTERIOR MOTIVE it was nursing using its connections in India when it violated court order and interfered with the procedures of the Sheikh’s treatment. This can also be deduced from the way the security agents whisked him away to unknown destination after arrival at Abuja International airport, without allowing him to have audience with the journalists that were waiting for his arrival.
The Islamic Movement will however continue its struggle to ensure that our leader gets the appropriate medical treatment he deserves as ordered by the Kaduna High court. And as we continue with the struggle, we wish to reiterate our call for the federal government to comply with an earlier Abuja high court that has freed him since 2016. We believe obedience to this court order will finally solve the crisis that has been lingering since the Zaria genocide of December 2015.
PRESIDENT MEDIA FORUM OF ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA