Leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria(IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ites, Mallam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, Wednesday said the condition at the Indian hospital was worse than what he experienced in Nigeria.
The Shi’ite leader said the situation was worse than a prison setting, and therefore demanded to be returned to Nigeria for a proper assessment of the situation.
He also said contrary to the earlier terms, their personal doctors were not allowed to supervise the treatment, thus fuelling suspicion of possible foul play.
But in a swift reaction Wednesday, the federal government said the IMN leader was listing terms for his treatment outside those granted by the court.
Such terms, the government said, include asking for a 5-star-hotel and access to all manners of visitors among others.
A Kaduna High Court recently granted the IMN leader and his wife, Zeena leave to travel to India to attend to their deteriorating health.
The duo were detained since December 2015 following a clash with soldiers in Zaria, during which about 347 IMN members were killed.
Following this therefore, the Indian authorities issued an ultimatum to the IMN leader to either submit himself for treatment or return to Nigeria.
In an interview with PRNigeria, a source at the Islamic Human Rights Commission(IHRC), claimed the Shi’ites leader was being treated by the management of the Medanta Hospital poorly and like a criminal.
The IHRC official said, “I just received very worrying news from the Indian Government that ultimatum has been given to the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to leave India if he does not agree to the doctors specified to treat him. The way that he is being treated is extremely bad.
“Under the current situation, it seems he has no choice other than to return to Nigeria. He has been given some hours to respond to their ultimatum. This, to me, is totally, utterly unacceptable by any standard.
“This is a man that has not been found guilty of anything to the extent that in his own country, the highest court had granted him permission that he should be treated.
“The Indian Government by their behaviour, depicts Sheikh El-Zakzaky as a common criminal. This is really outrageous and those who stand for justice should please respond.”
What IMN leader wants
But making his demands in an audio message that had long gone viral, and whose authenticity was confirmed by Ibrahim Musa, president, academic forum of IMN, El-Zakzaky said he must be allowed access to his medical doctors.
Expressing his angst in the audio, the IMN leader who spoke in Hausa, accused the federal government of working against his planned medical treatment in the Asian country.
He said: “The hospital officials received us well. They told us that they parked two ambulance vehicles, deceiving the crowd while taking us out through another way, saying that it was for our own safety.
“On getting to the hospital, we are placed under a tighter security situation worse than what we have been witnessed in Nigeria. We are currently more confined than when we were in Nigeria, worse than prison setting.
“Contrary to what was agreed before our arrival, that our own personal doctors would supervise this treatment, now they’ve changed the arrangement. So, we objected receiving treatment from strange doctors without the supervision of our own trusted physicians.”
He sought a return to Nigeria for a reliable and trusted hospital among those countries offering to help, saying “There are some other countries that volunteered to help which include Malaysia, Turkey.”
On his health challenge and that of his wife, he said: “There is a bullet in Zeenat’s body and there is also the need for her to get her two knee caps replaced amongst other ailments.
“On my own part, there are also particles of bullets that were broken into pieces in my eyes, hands and thighs which have been poisonous to my body.
“I think what they are supposed to do first of all is to extract these bullets which I know the surgery cannot be done in Nigeria, hence the reason for my referral abroad.
“Secondly, the poison needs to be extracted from my body, some of it they said is in my bones and they said the surgery will take some time.
“I also have problems with my eyes. Since after the second surgery, my eyes have been weak which I was also advised to travel to India for surgery.”
“We are happy and we know that by coming here, we’ll get a befitting hospital that will perform the surgery. The medical advice to come to this hospital which they call Mendata was given to us by some foreign doctors that visited us in Nigeria and that was why we requested we should be brought to this hospital.
“While in Nigeria, we got information that the United States Embassy had given an instruction that we shouldn’t be accepted in this hospital when we arrive.
“We also heard that they obeyed the order and said they won’t accept us so we were even thinking of going elsewhere in India but later on, we were informed that that order had been lifted.
“We then proceeded to India. On our arrival, we were received by the hospital staff from the airport and they escorted us down to the hospital.”
“While driving from the airport to the hospital in an ambulance, the staff of the hospital were narrating how some people besieged the airport just to see us before proceeding to the hospital, but they (the hospital) tricked them by keeping two ambulances at the location where my supporters were waiting and drove us out in another ambulance at a different location.
“They also said another set of people besieged the hospital just to see our arrival but they decided to use an alternative entrance to the hospital because they were trying to avert any stampede.
“When we got here, a staff of the Nigerian embassy told us that they already assembled with the staff of this hospital and security operatives discussing on what to do when we arrive. They later took us to an Indian security outfit that is even more sophisticated than the one we were kept in Nigeria.
“Back home in Nigeria, they agreed that nobody should take us to any other hospital aside the hospital of our choice but we got to realise that the doctors they brought to us were there just to give advice. We then told them we won’t allow any other doctor aside our trusted doctors to attend to us so that they don’t do to us what they couldn’t do with their bullets in Nigeria.
“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 ourselves 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,” he further said.
He can’t dictate his terms -FG
But the federal government Wednesday said the IMN leader was asking for conditions which were not part of the terms of the leave granted by the court for to travel.
A statement by Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information and Culture Grace Isu Gekpe said government took relevant steps to comply with the court order.
It reads: The Court on 5th August, 2019 granted Sheikh Ibraheem EL-Zakzaky leave to travel to India for medical treatment. Consequently, the Government and its relevant agencies took steps to comply with the Order.
In line with the Court Order, El-Zakzaky was approved 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.
In addition, he 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 apologize 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 government also wishes to use this opportunity to affirm its 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.
Meanwhile, 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.”