The Federal Government may bar the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, from other overseas treatment, Saturday PUNCH
Following reports of the IMN leader’s alleged moves to internationalise his agitations and unruly behaviour in India, it was learnt that the Federal Government might take into account security reports it already had on the IMN leader which indicated he planned to consolidate foreign support for his group.
Top security officials confirmed to Saturday PUNCH that El-Zakzaky’s attitude and activities during his visit to India only confirmed intelligence reports the government already had on the embattled Shiite leader.
A top intelligence officer told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity on Friday that the Shiite leader might not have another opportunity of travelling overseas for medical treatment.
“I can tell you that it is very unlikely the Federal Government would allow him to travel abroad for treatment again. With what he has done confirming some of the security reports we had on him already, the government is not likely to allow him to travel abroad again, even if the court rules otherwise,”
the source said.
The source added, “The government has always insisted that he (El-Zakzaky) could be treated within the country. Now that his activities in India, including how he planned to meet his lawyers, had been revealed, I bet the government won’t take a second bet on him.
“At least, the government will consider security reports before taking any decision, even with any court ruling.”
This is as the Federal Government on Friday raised the alarm about plans by El-Zakzaky to seek asylum outside the country and eventually relocate to another country.
The government specifically said his actions in India demonstrated malicious intents that were capable of embarrassing the Nigerian and Indian governments.
A statement issued in Abuja by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Gekpe, entitled, ‘The repatriation of Ibraheem El-Zakzaky from India’, said the wife of the IMN leader also antagonised the Indian and Nigerian security agents and accused the security agencies of killing her children to win international sympathy as well as disparage the Nigerian government.
The statement read, “The Federal Government wishes to inform the public about the latest development in the Ibraheem El-Zakzaky medical trip controversies to India. The government notes with dismay the acts of misconduct exhibited by El-Zakzaky that necessitated his repatriation.
“The earlier statement of August 14, 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 organisations such as the Islamic Human Rights Commission 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 five-star hotel to receive visitors instead of being admitted to the hospital as a sick person he claimed to be.
“In spite of his misconduct, El-Zakzaky’s spouse went further to antagonise the Indian and Nigerian security agents and accuse 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, the President, Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, denied that El-Zakzaky sought to seek asylum in India, accusing the President Muhammadu Buhari administration of deceit.
Reacting to the Federal Government’s comments, Musa told Saturday PUNCH, “It’s absolutely not true. This government cannot be believed in what it is saying against Sheikh El-Zakzaky and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria because of the many lies it has told the public in the past four years.
“Let me give you some few examples: The Federal Government claimed El-Zakzaky’s men wanted to assassinate (the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur) Buratai. But they later changed the story.
“The government claimed it killed only seven Shiites in Zaria, but it turned out they buried at least 354 and put them in a mass grave in Mando, Kaduna State.
“It claimed El-Zakzaky was not under arrest but under protective custody and that his wife could leave anytime, but the same government has disobeyed court orders to release him.
“It claimed the IMN attacked the Nigerian Army in Abuja, but the New York Times video report showed how the Presidential Brigade ambushed and massacred unarmed IMN protesters with battlefield weapons.
“So this administration has lost any integrity such that it can’t be telling the truth now.”