Barely 24-hours of arriving India for medical treatment, the Indian authorities seem to be running out of patience with the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky; and have threatened to repatriate him back to Nigeria, after El-Zakzaky insisted on choosing his own doctors and saying conditions at the Medanta hospital where he is checked in, are worse than prison detention in Nigeria. “All what we have seen here, have shown us that there is no trust, they just brought us here for another detention,” El-Zakzaky said.
But in a quick reaction, the Federal Government countered that El-Zakzaky was frustrating the Indian hospital authorities by refusing to subject himself for medical treatment. In a statement titled “The true story on El-Zakzaky in India”, the government said El-Zakzaky, who personally 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 upon arrival, El-Zakzaky refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after Department of State Services (DSS) officials who are accompanying him, resisted his pressure to handover 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 He also demanded that Police protection be withdrawn from him by the Indian authorities.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.
“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.” 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.
The cleric, who was arrested in 2015 following a clash between his members and military personnel in Zaria, faces an eight-count of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disturbance of public peace. He was granted bail on medical grounds, following a Kaduna High Court order on Aug. 5, 2019. El-Zakzaky, along with wife, subsequently traveled to India, via Dubai, for medical treatment on Sunday, Aug. 12, after government and relevant agencies took steps to comply with the order. On Monday,
El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat left Nigeria aboard Emirate flight EK786 via Dubai to Mumbai, India.
Before his departure, DSS operatives and the Nigeria Police laid siege to the International wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja for several hours. The Shiites leader and his wife Zeenat arrived in India on Tuesday afternoon, but he was quick express displeasure at the presence of heavily armed security operatives at every part of the Medanta Hospital where he was admitted.
“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,” El-Zakzaky said. The Shiites leader said he will not submit himself to people he does not trust for medical treatment. El-Zakzaky said three countries – Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey – have volunteered to treat him and his wife. He said India was not his choice country for medical treatment.
“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.” El-Zakzaky said there was an agreement with the Nigerian government not to take him to any other hospital aside from the hospital of his choice.
The Shiites leader said he and Zeenat cannot “allow a stranger to treat us, lest not what couldn’t be done with bullets be carried out in a different way.”
However, an IMN spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, claims the issues raised by El Zakzaky, in an audio recording that went viral on social media had been resolved “for now.” Speaking in an interview on Wednesday in Kaduna, Musa also revealed that El Zakzaky’s medical trip to India was arranged by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).
El Zakzaky had complained in the audio re that he was denied access to his doctors and that security around him was tighter than when he was in Nigeria. Asked whether El Zakzaky’s doctors were staff of the Mandeta Hospital, Musa said he was not in a position to confirm whether they work in the hospital.
He however said the doctors were among the team that came to examine the Islamic leader in April and recommended Mandeta Hospital, New Delhi, India. ”I don’t know of that, but they were among the ones that came here in April and examined him and recommended that Mandeta Hospital. The Sheikh (El Zakzaky) was complaining that he was denied access to them. But it has been resolved now. All the issues have been resolved for now,” Musa said. According to him, ”the trip was organised by IHRC (Islamic Human Rights Commission)” I don’t know who will foot the bill, but some Indian Muslim organisations have volunteered to do so”.
Confirming the IMN spokesman’s claim, the IHRC in a statement on its website said: “Sheikh El-Zakzaky and Mallimah Zeenah have been given access to their medical team. They are still restricted to the hospital premises, but there are negotiations going on to resolve this situation. Everyone’s swift action this morning is deeply appreciated.”