There was mild drama at the Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, India, yesterday, as leader of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, refused to be treated by those he described as unknown doctors deployed to treat them, saying they were different from those engaged for their treatment before they departed Nigeria.
El-Zakzaky, who spoke through an audio recording, also alleged that the condition at the Indian hospital he was taken to was worse than Kirikiri prisons.
The Shi’ites leader and his wife arrived in India last Tuesday for treatment, following the ruling of Kaduna State High Court.
This is even as his group, IMN, yesterday called on the Federal Government to allow the personal doctors of the El-Zakzakys to take over their medical care.
In the audio recording, El-Zakzaky accused the Federal Government of frustrating his medical treatment in India.
Laments situation at an Indian hospital
Speaking in Hausa, he said the situation at the hospital in India was “pathetic and worrisome,” alleging that the management of Medanta Hospital, New Delhi, had been threatened not to admit him for treatment.
He said: “The hospital officials received us well, they told us that they parked two ambulance vehicles to deceive the crowd while taking us out of the airport through another way, saying it was for our own safety.
“On getting to the hospital, we were placed under tighter security worse than what we witnessed in Nigeria. We are currently more confined than when we were in Nigeria, worse than a prison setting.
“Contrary to what was agreed before our arrival that our own personal doctors would supervise this treatment, they’ve changed the arrangement. So, we objected receiving treatment from strange doctors without the supervision of our own trusted physicians.”
Hospital backpedals, begins treatment
However, hours later, the hospital, according to the Islamic Human Rights Commission, agreed to the request of Sheikh El-Zakzaky to use known and appointed doctors for his treatment.
Speaking further, the Shi’ites leader had said: ‘’Right now, we are in the city of New Delhi in India. Like you all know, we came here for medical treatment due to some ailments that I and my wife, Zeenat, have been suffering from.
‘’There is a bullet in Zeenat’s body and there is also the need for her to get her two knee caps replaced, among 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 of which I know the surgery cannot be done in Nigeria, hence the reason for my referral abroad.
‘’Second, the poison needs to be extracted from my body, some of which they said is in my bones and they said the surgery will take some time.
‘’I also have problems with my eyes. Since the second surgery, my eyes have been weak and I was also advised to travel to India for surgery.
“We were happy because 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 called Mendata, was given to us by some foreign doctors that visited us in Nigeria and that was why we requested to be brought to this hospital.
“While in Nigeria, we got information that the United States Embassy had given instruction that we shouldn’t be accepted in this hospital. 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 were later informed that the 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.
His fans at the airport
‘’While on our way 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 stampede.
‘’When we got here, a staff of the Nigerian Embassy told us they had 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 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 from our trusted doctors, to attend to us so they don’t do to us what they couldn’t do with their bullets in Nigeria.
They brought us here for another detention
“All that we have seen here have shown that there is no trust, they just brought us here for another detention. I have been in detention for many 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 heavily armed security personnel waiting.
“They didn’t even allow me to go to the next room, I started asking myself that all these while I have been in detention, I have 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 allowed us to go anywhere we want in the area we are.
“Even Kirikiri prison will not affect me psychologically the way this one has.
…seeks a return to Nigeria
“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, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey. We can choose from among these three.”
Ultimatum to El-Zakzaky to leave India
Meanwhile, a member of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, IHRC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attitude of the Indian government has portrayed El-Zakzaky as a common criminal when no court in Nigeria has convicted him.
He said the Indian government had given El-Zakzaky an ultimatum to leave Indian soil if he refused to receive treatment from unknown doctors billed to treat him.
He said: “I just received very worrying news from the Indian government that ultimatum has been given to the leader of IMN, to leave India if he does not agree to the doctors specified to treat him. It is extremely bad the way he is treated.
“Under the current situation, it seems he has no choice than to go back to Nigeria. He has been given some hours to respond to their ultimatum. This, to me, is totally 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 has granted him permission to be treated.
‘’The Indian government, by its behaviour, depicts Sheikh El-Zakzaky as a common criminal. This is really outrageous and those who stand for justice should please respond.”
El-Zakzaky wants to check into a 5-star hotel—FG
But in a statement, Grace Gekpe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, said the IMN leader had violated the terms under which the court allowed him to travel.
Gekpe said he demanded to have his passport and sought free movement, adding that he wanted to receive visitors and also made a request to be checked into a 5-star hotel.
She said he had behaved so badly that the Indian authorities were willing to return him to Nigeria.
Her statement read: “The court on August 5, 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 August 12, 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 to use their country to internationalise his group’s activities. El-Zakzaky
“Against this background, the Nigerian government wishes to commend the stand of the Indian government as well as apologise 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 the 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.’’
India denies detaining El-Zakzaky, wife
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria has denied detaining El-Zakzaky, stating that there was no condition or ultimatum to the patient.
In a series of tweets from its official Twitter handle @india_nigeria, the High Commission assured that medical treatment is provided to consenting patients.
The tweets read: “Please be assured that medical treatment at reputed Indian hospitals is provided to consenting patients, as per medical norms. Protocol and safety steps are taken as necessary. There is no condition or ultimatum by India.”
It also denied reports that Indian police and security services were collaborating with Nigerian security services to place, El-Zakzaky, the Shi’ite leader in custody.
The mission added: “Such reports are not true. India has always been responsive to humanitarian requests. Medical treatment request was received from both El-Zakzaky and the Government of Nigeria, and we readily agreed. No other connotation should be attached to the matter.”