On Friday, what residents of Abuja and other cities in the country feared most crept up in a statement by the Shiite group, the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), that it would continue the struggle to get its leader freed. Many translate this to mean street protests would continue. Past protests have claimed lives, including that of a Police deputy commissioner and a journalist. The new development has also put residents of the cities on edge.
The Federal Government is claiming that the misconduct of the Shiite leader, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, led to their repatriation back to Nigeria from India.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) leader and his wife returned to Abuja Friday afternoon and were immediately taken into custody by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Spokesperson of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, had claimed on Thursday, that the group’s leader was returning because of l “lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued in the treatment of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky in New Delhi.”
He added:“In a video message sent by the Sheikh himself, he said that they were given two alternatives; either to commence the treatment on their own terms i.e the government terms or they will be sent back. And that it has been announced to them that they will be sent back and he is praying to Allah that may it be the best option for him and for everybody.
“It is clear to us that the Nigerian government interference and the scuttling of the whole process rather than supervision as ordered bt the court is the direct course of the impasse.
“The government as we know never wanted the medical leave in the first place and as we have seen it did whatever it can to stop it (medical leave) by all means possible and unfortunately it has stopped it.”
However, in a statement on behalf of government, Grace Isu Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture noted with dismay the acts of misconduct exhibited by El-zakzaky that necessitated his repatriation.
She said further: “The earlier statement of 14th August 2019 by the Government addressed the issues that would have raised some questions with the latest occurrences and particularly the uncelebrated return of El-zakzaky from India. 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 Organizations (NGOs), such as the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) 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 or leave to travel to another country, it would have violated the Nigerian court order that granted him permission to travel for medical treatment. However, he used the opportunity of being in India to attempt to internationalise his cause by mobilising the Rights groups. Even most unfortunate and rather embarrassing as earlier stated, was his quest to be relocated to a 5-Star hotel to receive visitors instead of being admitted in the hospital as a sick person he claimed to be.
“In spite of his misconduct, El-zakzaky’s spouse went further to antagonize the Indian and Nigerian security agents and accused the latter 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.”
However, in a statement on Friday by the President Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, gave its own account of what transpired including a threat to continue its struggle until its leader is released.
It said: “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.
“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.”
Musa said: “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 Azikwe 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.”
Musa said that 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.”