The Nigerian Government has allowed a team of Doctors and Consultants to examine the health conditions of the leader of the Movement for Islam in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Mallima Zeenah El-Zakzaky.
Led by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), which revealed on Friday that the health experts are to carry out an initial investigation into the state of health of the duo.
ICHR stated that “the initial investigation has highlighted the need for urgent probe into the health of the El-Zakzakys, which the team hopes will be carried out in the next couple of days”.
The rights group also acknowledged the change of position of the Federal Government in making this possible and hopes it heralds a full and just resolution of the situation.
The Nigerian Shiites leader, El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested in December 2015 by operatives of the Department of State Services following the deadly confrontation his members had with security agencies after confrontation with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
This reportedly left more than 1, 000 persons dead, mostly Shiites dead following the invasion of El-Zakzaky’s shrine by the Nigerian Army led security forces.
The Shiites leader was fatally wounded and feared to have died as a result especially as he was held incommunicado at the facility of Nigeria’s Secret Police for months leading to sustained protests by IMN members across most northern states forcing government to put him on trial.
However, refusal of Federal Government to obey court orders granting him bail has helped to frustrate his members leading to the disruption of National Assembly activities on Thursday.
But before being allowed access to El-Zakzaky, the IHRC had alleged in a statement on Wednesday that Nigeria’s security authorities were frustrating the efforts of the health team to examine him.
Read the earlier statement:
Authorities seek to frustrate medical team flown in to treat imprisoned sheikh
Security forces in Nigeria are obstructing attempts by doctors seeking to treat the imprisoned leader of the country’s Islamic Movement, in defiance of a court order earlier this year clearing the way for him to receive specialist medical attention from experts of his choosing.
Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm after being shot during the December 2015 massacre by the Nigerian military of over 1000 followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. His wife, who is also facing charges, also sustained serious injuries in the massacre. The sheikh also suffered a stroke at the turn of 2018.
Since their detention the couple’s supporters have sought to provide them with necessary medical help. However, Nigerian authorities have consistently prevented the pair from accessing their own medical treatment and have repeatedly refused requests for them to fly abroad.
In January a judge presiding over the trial of Sheikh Zakzaky ordered that he should be allowed to receive medical treatment from doctors of his own choosing. IHRC had organised a medical team comprising foreign specialists to fly to Nigeria but so far their attempts to see the sheikh and his wife have been blocked.
Sheikh Zakzaky is currently on trial on trumped up charges relating to the 2015 massacre. Authorities accuse him of abetting the commission of culpable homicide by blocking roads in the city of Zaria in December 2015. In reality, the charges are designed to deflect government responsibility for a planned and systematic attack by soldiers which is now the subject of a preliminary investigation by the International Criminal Court.
If the doctors don’t get to see the imprisoned couple it will be the second time that a court order has been openly defied by the authorities. In 2016 a federal court ruled that the couples’ detention was unlawful and unconstitutional and ordered the government to release them by January 16, 2017 and pay compensation.
IHRC is an London-based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.