It has taken nearly four years of negotiations, protests, false starts and blatant defiance of the rule of law, but finally Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife boarded an Emirates plane headed for India to begin his long delayed treatment.
Last week we reported that the Kaduna state government had placed a ban on public protests in response to the violent protests that had rocked the Federal Capital Territory as shi’ite adherents and members of the now outlawed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) over the continued detainment of their leader, El-Zakzaky. The religious leader ran afoul of the Nigerian military in 2015, leading to the deaths of 300 shi’ite members during a religious trek and the arrest that would propel the group from peaceful to fringe extremist group.
After previous attempts to grant Sheikh El-Zakzaky bail to seek treatment for his personal ailments were thwarted by the government and unsubstantiated claims made that the leader was being fed and cared for handsomely by the Nigerian government, the Federal Court in Kaduna finally heard the case and granted bail, based on some very stringent conditions set by the Kaduna State government, citing that it would respect the court’s conditions but considered the Sheikh a flight risk.
The Kaduna State government as part of its conditions to accede to bail given by the courts had requested Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his family meet the following requirements:
- El-Zakzaky was required to confirm his medical appointment with his chosen hospital in India, the confirmation countersigned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- El-Zakzaky was also required to sign an undertaking that required them to find and present two sureties to sign for them and vouch that the religious leader and his wife would return to the country after their treatment was done. The sureties the government asked for were on First-class chief/Emir, with national influence and a prominent indigene or full-time inhabitant of Kaduna state, and both were required to be able to bring the religious leader back into the country and into Kaduna state government custody whenever the government deemed fit.
There is no evidence to suggest the Federal government waited to ensure the Kaduna state government’s requirements were met, and with pressure from Iran (who has nuclear weapons), it doesn’t take much to figure out why the Presidency would make such a judgement call.
We can only hope that from this point, the IMN and shi’ites across the country will be pacified and the rule of law allowed to prevail.