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El-Zakzaky’s Dramatic Return From India Raises More Dust …FG Wants Me Dead, Kirikiri Prison Better Than Indian Hospital -El-Zakzaky …He’s Unruly, India Willing To Send Him Back, FG Claims

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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.

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Help Govt Fight Crude Oil Theft, Fubara Tasks Monarchs …Says Economic Sabotage Inimical To Dev

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that it is the duty of everybody, especially traditional rulers, to join efforts together to ensure that there is stability and unfettered progress of Nigeria.

 

He has also advised traditional rulers to take charge of their domains and ensure that they make life difficult for ill-guided youths involved in acts of economic sabotage in their various communities.

 

Governor Fubara gave the charge while declaring open the 117th/118th Combined Quarterly General Meeting of Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers at their Secretariat in Port Harcourt on Monday.

 

The Governor maintained that it should be the concern of everybody to support and see Nigeria progress as a stable country while advancing economically, adding that this is possible only when there is high production of crude oil, as the mainstay of the national economy.

 

He said: “I want to see a different society from this hour. The Federal Government is doing everything to see that our cryde oil production level increases. But every day, we are having issues of illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalisation and all the associated problems.

 

“All these people that are  carrying out these evil acts, they’re not coming from the moon, they live in our communities, we know them. I am charging this council, as a first step, take charge of your communities.

 

“If there is any information that you need to share with us, share with us. In the overall, we need our country to progress. We need our country to be stable. We need our country to grow economically. It is through only one means: our oil production.”

 

The Governor insisted: “We are charging you, to please go back and take charge of your communities. I assure you of our support. If there is anything that we need to do, if it means government sending you some little support financially to create your own vigilante to help, we will do it.”

 

Governor Fubara expressed delight and gratitude to God that the council is still existing despite the protracted political travail confronting the State and his administration.

 

The Governor explained that what he is doing is devoid of politics but a performance of statutory duty of government, especially in the appointment of a new chairman to steer the affairs of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers.

 

He said, “There is nothing new that has happened. The immediate past chairman served out his tenure, and the tenure is usually a one year duration.

 

“It is at the discretion of the Governor to extend such tenure. I believe, from my own assessment, there was no reason to extend it, but rather to bring in fresh blood that can bring the council together.

 

“And what we did, we did in good faith because our communities, our people are important to us. I want to commend the chairman who is barely three months in office, to have been able to put this meeting together; it shows leadership.”

 

Governor Fubara said this is the first time after the appointment of Eze Chike Worlu Wodo that he will be addressing the council, and charged the new chairman, who understands the current situation, to lead the council aright.

 

He said, “I want you to lead this council with the fear of God. I want you to lead this council with the understanding that you are dealing with people that are independent, and feeding their own families.

 

“So, you need to have a spirit and heart of accommodation and tolerate them. Make your point very straight when you talk to them. I strongly believe that they are matured enough to give you the required support.”

 

The Governor emphasised: “So, at this point, I want to charge everyone of you that is here; God at this time has made you leaders of our communities, leaders of our towns, leaders of sections.

 

“So, know that this appointment that you have is not a mistake. It is God that gave you the chance. Make good use of it.

 

“Continue to make peace the most important agenda of your reign and locality. It is only on that, that it will now reflect in our State.

 

“We need total peace in our State. We cannot develop in the face of crisis. We can only improve when every person is living peacefully.”

 

Governor Fubara said he has been furnished with a comprehensive list of names of all traditional rulers of First Class, Second Class and Third Class totalling over 150.

 

The Governor explained that the state government cannot take in one block the purchase of their official vehicles, going by that number, and urged them to consider the option of monetizing it because most of them own their cars already.

 

In his address, the Chairman, Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Chike Worlu Wodo, used the opportunity to thank Governor Fubara for maintaining peace in the State in the face of the unwarranted political crisis orchestrated by selfish and overzealous politicians.

 

Eze Wodo, who is the Paramount Ruler of Apara Kingdom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the State, urged the Governor not to fall into the traps of detractors by confronting their violence with  violence, which he noted, will only serve the interest of those selfish politicians.

 

He said, “All of us know that those that are over-heating the polity have one aim: to make the State ungovernable so as to make it ripe for a declaration of State of Emergency. Please, Sir, advise your supporters to avoid every invitation to violence.

 

“May I also appeal to our people on all sides of the political divide to remember that we have nowhere else to call home apart from Rivers State. So, we must not allow our personal interest to destroy the peace, stability and growth of our State.”

 

Eze Wodo enjoined members of the council: “As traditional rulers, we owe our State the duty of making it peaceful by cautioning our children against violent acts.

 

“We, therefore, cannot caution anybody if we allow ourselves become overly partisan. We will then lose the moral authority to reprimand those causing trouble when we take sides. So, I say, let us all work assiduously to maintain peace in Rivers State.”

 

On his part, the Rivers State Commissioner for Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Engr. Charles Amadi, noted with concern the disturbing development and progressive degradation of values in the various communities, requiring focused attention on the roles of the traditional rulers in Rivers State.

 

Engr Amadi said there has been hope all along that traditional rulers in the State will pull their various domains through with tenable innovations that will stem the dwindling social decay in the various communities.

 

He said, “But, by close examination of the problems in the various communities of Rivers State, compared with the activities in the various settlers of the various communities, we found out that we are on the path of diminishing returns with many of the communities cum settlers, plunging into crisis.

 

“It has become increasingly obvious that we must examine the roles of the Rivers State traditional rulers in other to improve efficiency and curtail the crisis in our various communities.

 

“However, I strongly commend those traditional rulers of Rivers State that have displayed their good roles effectively and efficiently in the various communities that yielded relative peace that has ushered in good governance in Rivers State.”

 

Engr Amadi said the quarterly meeting, therefore, presents a time for traditional rulers to resolve on how to harness the potentials that will engender improvements of living conditions and overall development of their various communities.

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Senate Passes 2024 National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill

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The Senate yesterday at plenary, passed the 2024 National Minimum Wage Amendment Act Bill.

This followed presentation and adoption of a report on the bill, by leader of the Senate Sen. Opeyemi Bamidele (APC-Ekiti).

The Tide source reports that the bill which was transmitted to Senate by President Bola Tinubu on July 23, was given accelerated consideration, resulting into its first and second reading in line with Senate rule 80.

Opeyemi in his lead debate on the general principles of the bill said the bill sought to amend the national minimum wage act, 2019.

According to him, the bill seeks to increase the national minimum wage and reduce the time for periodic review from Five years to three years.

He said in recent times, plethora of agitations and clamour have been recorded from organised labour and other segment of the society for increase in national minimum wage, given prevailing economic situation in Nigeria.

He said in response to agitations and after series of negotiations between Federal Government and the organised labour, the current national minimum wage of N30,000 only has been reviewed upward to the N70,000.

According to him, it is part of Federal Government’s short-term measure to mitigate the situation in the country, as efforts are being made to bring long-term solutions that would align with yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians and bring succour.

Opeyemi urged lawmakers to support the quick passage of the bill, adding that its passage was sacrosanct to the socio-economic and political wellbeing of Nigeria.

The Tide source reports that on June 3, the organised  labour went on strike over the minimum wage dispute.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) had proposed N494,000 as the new national minimum wage, citing inflation and the prevailing economic hardship in the country.

But the unions later reduced the amount to N250,000 after several meetings.

On July 11, leaders of labour met with Tinubu at the presidential villa over the new minimum wage.

The labour leaders eventually accepted N70,000 as the new minimum wage for workers.

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FG, Stakeholders Brainstorm On Non-Oil Exports

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As part of efforts to ensure continuous growth in non-oil exports, the Federal Government and trade experts have examined the nation’s port economic regulations and other issues affecting export businesses.
The occasion was during a one-day stakeholders’ workshop, organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment in conjunction with the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), held midweek.
While the government gave assurances to come up with policies to support export trade, it encouraged other port stakeholders to join its collaborative effort to create a regulatory framework that empowers exporters, streamlines processes, and unlocks the full potential of Nigeria’s commodity export sector.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Amb. Nura Rimi, urged all stakeholders to play a role in developing the non-oil exports.
At the event, themed, “Port Economic Regulation and Its Impact on Shipment of Export Commodities through Nigerian Ports”, Rimi emphasised the pivotal role of Nigerian ports in enhancing the nation’s export efficiency and competitiveness.
Rimi, who was represented by the Director, Commodities and Export Department, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Kaura Irimiya, highlighted the vast wealth of exportable commodities in Nigeria, especially agricultural produce.
“Our ability to efficiently export these commodities is crucial for our economic growth and international competitiveness.
“The smooth flow of exports heavily relies on ports functioning at their optimal capacity”, he said.
Rimi called for a collaborative effort to create a regulatory framework that empowers exporters, streamlines processes, and unlocks the full potential of Nigeria’s commodity export sector.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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