Detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky reportedly suffered a stroke early last week, according to reporting by Doha based Al-Jazeera news.
Backstory: El-Zakzaky through his counsel, Femi Falana (SAN) made an application before a Kaduna State High Court requesting for permission to travel abroad to see his doctors for medical treatment. However, the case suffered a setback following an indefinite adjournment by the trial judge Justice Gideon Kurada, who was assigned to an election petition tribunal. The case has been reassigned to a Justice Darius Khobo who recently adjourned ruling on the issue till July 29.
El-Zakzaky’s medical situation: Before the recent report that claimed El-Zakzaky suffered a stroke, his counsel had earlier told the court that medical doctors observed that Zakzaky lost one of his eyes in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS). His wife, Zinat, who was also detained with him lost the ability to walk. In April, a team of doctors from the United Kingdom’s Islamic Human Rights Commission was allowed to examine Zakzaky in April 2019. The doctors reported that he has suffered liver damage and that high lead levels were found in his blood.
State prosecutors have objected to El-Zakzaky’s application on the basis that Nigerian doctors are yet to ascertain if he should be treated locally or must be flown abroad.
Some facts about the El-Zakzaky case:
- El-Zakzaky was only first arraigned on May 15, 2018, after almost three years in detention without trial.
- Justice Gideon Kurada, who originally handled the traveling for treatment case had adjourned indefinitely on March 25 to attend the Yobe elections tribunal, until a new judge was now assigned to the case.
- A parallel trial determined El-Zakzaky’s detention as unlawful and awarded the Shiite leader the sum of N50 million as damages on December 3, 2016.
- The Federal House of Representatives ordered the Federal Government July 10, to release El-Zakzaky in line with court orders.
Bottomline: El-Zakzaky’s followers are losing patience over his medical situation. The IMN has been unyielding in its demand for the freedom of their leader. If the various medical reports are to be believed, it will be wise for the government to allow Zakzaky treatment and prevent any dire situation from arising while he remains in their illegal custody. Already the tensions are escalating and it could get worse. Lest we forget, two police officers were shot in the recent clash between the police and the IMN protesters at the National Assembly.