Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat are set to fly out to India after a court granted them leave for medical attention at the Medanta Hospital in New Delhi. Justice Darius Khobo of the Kaduna State High Court, who granted the leave yesterday, however ordered that the IMN leader be accompanied abroad by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS).
The judge further ordered that the IMN leader and his wife will remain at the approved hospital, Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, India until they recover completely and upon their recovery, they will return to Nigeria and continue with their trial.
The DSS, in a statement by its Public Relations Officer Dr Peter Afunanya, confirmed receiving the court order and said it “is liaising with relevant stakeholders to ensure compliance.” The IMN leader and his wife applied for medical leave to Medanta Hospital, near New Delhi, India citing poor health while in detention. They are facing charges of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace among other charges since December, 2014 when members of his movement blocked the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai in Zaria. The Links earlier reported how the IMN suspended its street protest following the intervention of prominent personalities in the north to help resolve the crisis “because of its security implications.” It is not clear why the IMN leader chose Medanta Hospital which, according to its website, is a multisuperspeciality hospital in Delhi NCR (Gurugram) providing world class treatment including heart, liver, kidney transplants, cancer surgeries and radiation therapy, and minimally invasive robotic surgeries. The hospital, which was established in 2009, with cardiac surgeon, Naresh Trehan, also launched an eye-care division offering laser-based eye surgeries, minimal eye trauma and shortened surgery time.
‘Court granted leave, not bail’ Speaking to journalist after the court sitting, Kaduna State Director, Public Prosecution, Bayero Dari said the state will explore whether there is need for an appeal or not, adding that “We have a month to go through that.” He said the team had taken time and examined the eight medical reports by Nigerian and foreign doctors that accompanied the IMN leader’s application. “The context of the court ruling is that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife are granted leave to travel out for urgent medical attention. “The court read through all the medical reports and said the applicant could leave for medical attention because based on the medical reports, Malam is in dire need of medical attention and the court cannot try a dead person. “The leave, according to the court, will last till malam and his wife are discharged from the hospital and as soon as they are discharged, they will return to the country to continue with the trial.” He informed that the court heard all arguments from counsels and ruled. “We are bound by the ruling of this honourable court and all the parties are bound by the ruling of the court,” he said. He noted that the applicant will leave for India as soon as travel arrangements are made along with officials of the state. Our clients need urgent attention Counsel to Zakzaky, Marshall Abubakar described the application as an application to save the life of malam and his wife. “The judge agreed with the applicants and the eight different medical reports filed by the applicant, which showed clearly how urgently our clients need medical attention abroad and granted the application.” He recalled that before July 29, the lead counsel to the applicant, Femi Falana, was in the court to move the application, which was adjourned to today. Falana also once wrote a letter to the president saying Zakzaky risked losing the sight in his right eye “sequel to the brutal treatment meted out to him by the armed soldiers.” “The court was persuaded by the submission of Femi Falana (SAN) and the various medical reports that were attached to the said application, so the court was also of the view that the life of the applicant must be saved urgently.” Our correspondent reports that major roads in Kaduna were empty of human and vehicular movements as police anti-riot vehicles were stationed along Ahmadu Bello Way during the hearing to forestall breakdown of law and order. Respect court ruling, Free Zakzaky urge FG Meanwhile, the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee of the IMN has urged the Federal Government to act urgently and grant their leader instant permit to travel for the treatment. The committee, in a statement signed by the Chairman, Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee, Abdurrahman Abubakar Yola, described the ruling as a victory “for our dogged determination, patience and perseverance in the face of extreme persecution. It is a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity.” He said as a result of physical and psychological stresses, the IMN leader suffered series of mild strokes and is at the risk of further recurrences. “Malam and his wife have been battling ailments that could not be treated in Nigeria, as posited by the foreign medical experts that earlier in the year assessed their health condition. Undoubtedly, both risk losing their lives had this favourable ruling been denied or further delayed. “We are all aware of the blurred human rights records of the Nigerian government which hardly respects court orders in contravention of the constitutional provisions. Previously, Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife were still kept in detention incommunicado in spite of previous court judgement ordering their immediate release from detention, thereby further flaunting their fundamental rights and further jeopardizing their deteriorating health.” He noted that with the recent ruling by the court, it will finalize urgent plans to transfer them to a more appropriate foreign health facility for further expert management as they await the response of the Nigerian government. “We wish to use this opportunity to also say a big thank you to all people of conscience, particularly some very senior citizens, diplomats, human rights activists and organizations, journalists and the general public who doggedly stood by us in the campaign for justice for the victims of Zaria genocide. Thank you and God bless,” he said.