Barely 96 hours after landing in New Delhi for medical treatment, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, has reportedly discharged himself from the Medenta Hospital and may likely return to Nigeria, today.
The President, Media Forum of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, said that El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, who were airborne as at the time of speaking with our correspondent, yesterday evening, left New Delhi around 5:00 p.m. Nigerian time, heading back to the country.
Musa, in a statement, blamed the Federal Government for scuttling the IMN leader’s planned treatment.
He said, “Following lack of a breakthrough in the impasse that ensued in the treatment in New Delhi of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, it is now confirmed that the Sheikh is on his way back to Abuja.
“In a video message sent through his office, the Sheikh said it was decided that they will be taken to the airport to be flown back to Nigeria.
“He has left Delhi by 17:00 Nigerian time.”
He prayed that “may that be the best option in the circumstances.”
The group added, “The Nigerian government’s interference and scuttling of the whole process rather than supervision as ordered by the court is the direct cause of the impasse.
“The government never wanted the medical leave in the first place, and did whatever to stop it by all means possible,” Musa alleged.
The Federal Government had earlier refuted El-Zakzaky’s allegations, stating that he attempted to violate the conditions of his treatment by making unreasonable demands, including insisting on lodging in a five-star hotel in New Delhi with free access to “all manner of visitors.”
Earlier, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, yesterday, had condemned Federal Government’s claims that he was unruly in India.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had claimed that the leader of IMN had refused treatment from those he called “unknown doctors” put in place to treat him in India.
The Shiites leader insisted he wanted to be treated by those booked to treat him before he and his wife left Nigeria.
However, the IMN leader, in a short statement, yesterday, said, “I have heard that the Nigerian authorities have issued some statements which are laced with lies.
“It is up to people to agree with me or with the government’s version of the story.”
But the Federal Government had apologized to India for what it termed El-Zakzaky’s “unruly behaviour” in the country.
A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, said that the cleric refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks after state officials resisted his pressure to hand-over his International Passport to him.
It states: “He also demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds, and also requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.
“That request was rejected on the ground that he came into the country for medicals, and not as a tourist, especially with the Visa issued on medical grounds and not for tourism.”
Meanwhile, 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.
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.”
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.
“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. “
“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.”
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.”
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.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has said that the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) back to Nigeria with immediate effect for fear of his internationalising his group’s activities in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Grace Isu Gekpe, disclosed this in a statement issued to newsmen in Abuja.
She said El-Zakzaky’s cry that he is being held in circumstances worse than he was in Nigeria should be disregarded because since arriving in India as he refused to subject himself to preliminary medical checks.
“The court on 5th August, 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 12th August, 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.
N148bn Funds For Roads: Wike Slams Buhari, APC, FG Over Deliberate Neglect Of Rivers …Says Real Madrid Football Academy Has Come To Fruition
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has berated the Federal Government for deliberately neglecting Rivers State in the recent release of N148billion for roads’ construction across the country.
Wike declared that the action of the Federal Government was the most shameful act of marginalisation in a federation where Rivers State contributes to the financial sustenance of the country.
The governor said this before commissioning the new Rivers State Civil Servants’ Quarters at Amassoma Street in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said Rivers politicians in APC should be able to plead with the Federal Government to site projects in Rivers State to expand their political relevance.
According to Wike, “The Federal Government released N148billion for the construction of roads and it did not consider one road in Rivers State. Look at the condition of the East-West Road.
“Shame on those who say they are working with the current Federal Government, but cannot protect the interest of Rivers State in that government.
“We are producing oil that finances projects in the country and the Federal Government can release N148billion for roads and Rivers State was neglected. You are working with the Federal Government and you cannot attract projects to Rivers State. Anyone who is in APC and is from Rivers State, shame on you.
“You are there; you cannot even say for my sake, help me and give me one road, so, I can go home and tell my people this is what I brought to Rivers State.
“What offence has Rivers State committed in this country that this Federal Government cannot for one day remember the state? They have our son who was their director general. If for nothing, since he was your director general, help him and do one project for his people.
“Tomorrow, you will say Rivers people should vote for you. Which vote? We won’t do that. Nobody is a slave. We are not slaves. We cannot be conquered by anybody”, Wike added.
Similarly, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has expressed happiness that the Real Madrid Football Academy has become a reality, saying that major international football stars will be groomed at the facility.
Addressing journalists, yesterday, after inspecting the Real Madrid Football Academy in readiness for the commissioning programme on Saturday, Wike said that all the facilities have been put in place for the successful take off of the academy.
“The administrator in charge of Africa and Asia for Real Madrid will be in Port Harcourt on Thursday night. Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State will be commissioning the project on Saturday.
“When we promised that we will set up a Real Madrid Football Academy that will help groom international stars in the area of football, so many people played politics and said that it was fake.
“We are happy that it has come to fruition. We have sent people to Madrid and they have been trained as instructors and coaches. We also sent the players of Banham Model Primary School, winners of Channels Television Kids Cup to Madrid for training. They will form the first set of students”, he said.
The governor said the development of the Real Madrid Football Academy was a confirmation that his administration was serious with keeping promises made to Rivers people.
He said that on Saturday, Nigerians will watch live on television to excellent facility that will produce the next set of international soccer stars.
Also yesterday, the governor visited the Judges’ Quarters, which would be commissioned by the administration in October, 2019.
He said: “Rivers State has provided the basic infrastructure for the Judiciary. Anybody who comes here will attest to the fact that Rivers State has provided quality infrastructure for the Judiciary to do their work as expected”.
The governor later inspected the Fruit Garden Market built by his administration after the initial market was gutted by fire.
The Fruit Garden Market would be commissioned next week.
$9.6bn Scam: Court Winds Up P&ID, Orders Forfeiture Of Assets …As Nigeria’s Legal Team Meets In London, Moves For Revocation of Fine
The Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, convicted and subsequently ordered the winding up of Process and Industrial Development Limited and its Nigerian affiliate, P&ID Nigeria Limited, for charges of fraud and tax evasion in respect of the contract leading to the recent controversial judgment of a British court empowering the firm to seize about $9.6billion worth of Nigerian assets.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his judgment also ordered the forfeiture of “the assets and properties” of the two firms to the Nigerian government.
The judge made the orders shortly after the two firms, through their representatives, pleaded guilty to the 11 counts instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Relying on provisions of Section 19(2) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011, and Section 10(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006, the court ordered the Federal Government to wind up the two firms and confiscate all their assets in the country.
While P&ID Limited incorporated in British Virgin Island was represented in the dock by its Commercial Director, Mohammad Kuchazi, P&ID Nigeria Limited was represented by Adamu Usman, who is also a lawyer.
Kuchazi was represented by his lawyer, Dandison Akurunwua, while Usman represented himself.
Both men pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies to all the 11 counts read to them before Justice Ekwo, yesterday.
They were accused of among others, fraudulently claiming to have acquired land from the Cross River State Government in 2010 for the gas supply project agreement which led to the $9.6billion judgment.
After the defendants pleaded guilty to the 11 counts, an EFCC investigator, Usman Babangida, was called to the witness box for review of facts which was not opposed by the defence.
Documents relating to the controversial 2010 gas supply contract and EFCC’s investigation activities were tendered and admitted by the judge as exhibits without objection from the defence.
The judge then went on to pronounce the two firms represented by the two men guilty.
Making an allocutus, plea for mercy, P&ID’s lawyer Akurunwua, urged the judge to consider “the forthrightness and candour” of P&ID by pleading guilty and not wasting the time of the court in the trial.
Meanwhile, with the trial and conviction of both the British Virgin Island and the Nigerian affiliate of Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) by a Federal High Court for fraud and corruption, Nigeria is set to present the United Kingdom Appeal Court handling the case, with a new set of pleading to revoke the monumental award against the country.
Beyond the conviction of the company, the Nigerian federal court also ordered the forfeiture of the assets of the company to the Federal Government.
Arising from the judgment, a consortium of Nigeria’s legal team is set to meet in London early next week with a view to reviewing the case and making an appropriate adjustment to its deposition towards the revocation of the award earlier granted by the court to the shadowy company, which has now been convicted.
It was learnt that with the conviction, Nigeria is likely going to argue before the court of appeal that the UK commercial and Arbitration Court was misled by the suspects to grant the huge award and should, therefore, be revoked given the new and better information that was unavailable to the country at the time.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, yesterday, confirmed that the legal team would be converging in London to review the case and take further steps to advance the cause of justice and Nigeria in the case, which has drawn global attention.
Malami said: “Nigeria is expected to review its strategy in view of the unfolding development as it relates to the conviction of some of the suspects that have admitted to fraud and corruption that gave rise to the award.
“The implication of today’s conviction of the suspects by the FHC in Nigeria is that Nigeria has a judicial proof of fraud and corruption as a foundation of the relationship that gave rise to a purported liability and arbitral award.
“From the available evidence, Nigeria now has a cogent ground to ask for the setting aside of the entire liability.
Female Hotel Murders: Kudos To Rivers Police Command
The response of the Rivers State Command of the Nigeria Police over the incidents of hotel murders of at least eight ladies, qualifies for attention, given the far reaching impact it will have beyond the immediate circumstances of the heinous crimes. Following the incidents of murder of these ladies in some hotels in the state, the Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura, summoned hotel owners to a meeting where some new codes of practice in guest reception and management were adopted. Among these were the installation of close circuit television (CCTV) systems and detailed profiling of hotel guests pursuant to providing same information to the police on demand. To accentuate his point, the Commissioner clarified to them that in the event of untoward developments in their facilities – such as the incidence of criminal conduct, they as hotel operators and staff immediately qualify as accomplices to the crime, at least until their innocence is proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Drastic and novel as the measures may be seen by some, they constituted the minimum standard with respect to the issue of integrity of hotel services. The utility of such measures far outweighs whatever inconvenience and costs they may impose on the respective hotel operators and guests. Just as well, the implications of the measures with respect to enhancing the general state of insecurity in the state justify by far, the need for their effective implementation. Already, their effectiveness has been established as some suspects in respect of the reported crimes have been arrested and are helping police investigations. The most recent was that of a man who was allegedly in the act of suffocating with a pillow, the lady he spent the night with in a Diobu hotel. Her vigilance saved her life as she was able to stop him from executing his plan before raising alarm. Meanwhile, as a manifestation of the public revulsion over the development, the outcry over it has been stringent with at least one group of sympathetic women has actually taken to the streets to express solidarity with the victims of the dastardly acts.
Seen within the context of the riot act by the Police to the hoteliers, it could not have come at a more auspicious time than now. Even as it can be said that the unprecedented murders of the unfortunate ladies prompted the Police order to hoteliers in the Rivers State, the measures are better late than never. Among the factors that define the merit of the Commissioner’s position are at least two. In the first place is the fact that hotel management has its traditional code of ethics which are intended to guarantee the safety of both workers and guests. Being locations where anybody no matter the character, capabilities and motives can come in and enjoy hospitality, there are traditional risks associated with their operations. For this reason, developed countries where hoteling has been better managed, pay premium attention to the issues of identity of guests and other patrons of hotels. Among hotel guests can be the good, the bad and ugly characters, and as the playwright, William Shakespeare put it, one cannot tell the character of any individual just by the facial features. So ordinarily, hotel monitoring remains a primary duty of the Police as they constitute the choice locations for sundry crimes, due to the anonymity they provide guests.
Secondly, given the heightened scale of anti-crime operations in the state courtesy of the resolve of the government to tackle its perpetrators to a standstill, the traditional bases of the miscreants are under surveillance, hence, forcing them to seek fresh bases which include hotels, especially the non – descript ones that can easily escape the prying eyes of the law. Hence, the new initiative by the Rivers State Police Command offers the promise of placing tracers on not only serial women killers but also other criminals that habitually use hotels as their operational rendezvous. Thus, by the riot act to the hoteliers, the Police is expected to kill more than one bird with that single metaphorical stone.
Meanwhile, this is to express the condolence of this column to the bereaved families of the deceased, whose deaths have stirred the conscience of the society to the outrage spawned by the presence of demented serial killers in our midst. We have been hearing of killings by armed robbers whose proclivity to murder their victims is borne out of the devilish urge to instill fear and facilitate compliance with their demands. There is also the spate of killings by cultists in order to press home their underworld values. What then can be said about killers who do it for no justifiable reason other than the fun of seeing others, and in this case women with whom they could have been passionately intimate, die?
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