By Uche Mbah
Using a Chartered flight, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN , and his wife, Zeenat, left Abuja today for India where they would undertake medical treatment.
El-Zakzaky, Muslim Shitte leader, and his wife have been under DSS detention since 2015. At least, two courts had granted them bail, on medical grounds but they were not released by the DSS for what the Service termed Security reasons.
Trouble started for the couple in 2015 when the IMN members blocked the road in Zaria, Kaduna state, against the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Burutai, who was going to an official duty.
All entreaties to make way for the Army Chief and his entourage fell on deaf ears.
Their refusal resulted in a blood bath, which left, allegedly, over 300 IMN members, including two of El- Zakzaky’s sons, dead. At least one soldier, and a number of others were wounded.
His years of detention and the refusal to obey court orders granting him and his wife bail, sparked an everyday protest by his devotees in the FCT. The protests got worse when the Kaduna state government hauled the couple before a Kaduna High Court, for alleged murder. And, recently, degenerated into violent protests, resulting in the death of among others, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, and the proscription, by the FG, of the IMN.
A little over a week ago, a Kaduna High Court granted them bail on health grounds to travel to India for their medical treatment. The health of the couple had degenerated, very badly, since the detention, with the IMN leader, allegedly, going blind on one eye, and he and his wife barely able to work due to gun shot injuries.
The DSS quickly agreed to obey the court order which, also, said a DSS operative should accompany them on the medical trip to India.
Nigerians applauded. But Governor Nasir El-Rufai threw a spanner in the works when he presented his own conditionalities for the trip. But, El- Zakzaki’s Counsel, Femi Falana, SAN, dismissed the conditionlities as hogwash, insisting that El-Rufai is not a court of law and cannot give any conditions outside the conditions the court gave.
On Monday, both the DSS and the FG ignored El-Rufai, and obeyed the Court order.
Opinion is that both Iran and a number of diplomatic channels did the trick. A couple of days ago, about 176 Muslim medical doctors from across the globe, sent a letter to President Muhamadu Buhari, asking that El-Zakzaky and his wife be allowed to, immediately, proceed on medical treatment abroad.
Perhaps, now, the restless IMN members will give peace a chance and Abuja will be calm.