Sheikh Zakzaky was, from the very beginning of his travel to India, bothered and pressed by the hostile decision of the Nigerian government, according to a Friday statement signed by Ibrahim Musa, the President of the Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).
The movement added in its statement that even upon returning from New Delhi, the top cleric was denied a chance to talk to reporters and journalists who had been waiting for his return at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport for hours.
The IMN condemned the move and added that it was intended to prevent Sheikh from revealing some realities about his difficulties in New Delhi, and to pave the way for spreading disinformation against him.
According to the statement, upon arriving in New Delhi, Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were separated from the doctors who accompanied him from Nigeria and were forcibly taken to a hospital which held no respect for the basic rights of patients.
Even a doctor who had flown from London to New Delhi was not allowed to meet with Sheikh Zakzaky.
It asserted that Nigerian agents’ insistence on not allowing Sheikh Zakzaky to meet with his doctors reassured the cleric and his wife that Abuja was planning to kill him in the Indian hospital with the help of their connections and operatives in the place.
Sheikh Zakzaky, a prominent Shiite leader, has been in detention along with his wife for close to four years despite the deterioration of his health conditions.
Last Tuesday, in an exclusive interview with FNA, Dr. Pourrahim Najafabadi, MD, said Sheikh Zakzaky needs to be cured by an experienced medical team of physicians in a specialized multi-specialty hospital outside Nigeria, since there is no such medical center in the African country.
“With the current physical condition of the Sheikh, especially the virulent lead poisoning, Sheikh’s life is seriously at risk by delayed treatment. Meanwhile, there is a need for special medical care even in case of complete medical treatment. There is serious risk to Sheikh’s life if he is kept under detention,” said Najafabadi, the founder and spokesperson of a group of expert physicians who have volunteered to treat Sheikh Zakzaky.
Also, last Sunday, a group of doctors from Pakistan, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in a letter to the Nigerian government pointed to Sheikh Zakzaky’s physical conditions, and asked the Nigerian government to transfer him to a well-equipped hospital as soon as possible.
Among Zakzaky’s surviving children and supporters, concerns are mounting over his health. The 66-year-old cleric has lost vision in one eye and was in danger of “losing the second one,” his lawyer, Femi Falana, told reporters. Zakzaky and his wife still have “pellets of bullets in their bodies,” said Falana, which were sustained during their 2015 arrest.
The Shiite cleric was not present in court late in July for a bail hearing since his health was “very bad,” said Falana. “That is why we applied that he be excused from appearance in court and it was granted.”
On the occasion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second inauguration, Amnesty International has issued a report, Nigeria: Human Rights Agenda, a twenty-page indictment of human rights violations by “state and non-state actors,” but with the emphasis on the state security services. It calls on the Buhari administration to address perennial human rights abuses and makes specific recommendations as to what needs to be done.
The report begins with a review of the extensive constitutional and legal protections of human rights in Nigeria and also of the international human rights instruments that Nigeria has ratified, but concludes that Nigeria is facing a worsening human rights crisis across the country.
Human rights activists are concerned that given the Nigerian government’s dire human rights record, Sheikh Zakzaky’s return to prison would equal to his death.
Here comes the full text of the statement:
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 Azikwe international Airport in Abuja, they were not given enough time to rest before boarding the plane. They endured an 8-hour flight to Dubai and another 3-hour 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.
More so, 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.