The Kaduna State Government has said the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, must not seek asylum in India.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, the government of Kaduna which is currently prosecuting El-Zakzaky, said steps must be taken to ensure the IMN leader and Zeenah, his wife, do not become fugitives from justice.
The government said the duo should not frustrate the trial by claiming asylum or the status of political prisoners in India.
On Monday, a high court in Kaduna granted El-Zakzaky and his wife the permission to travel to India for treatment. They have been in detention since 2015 following a clash between IMN members and some soldiers.
Through Femi Falana, their counsel, El-Zakzaky and his wife had applied for medical leave, citing poor health.
But Aruwan said while the government is not opposed to anyone seeking medical treatment in any part of the world, so long it is not at the expense of the government, it has filed for strict supervision of the medical leave.
“Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky is facing criminal trial before the Kaduna High Court on charges filed in April 2018. The Kaduna State Government is prosecuting Malam Ibrahim El-Zakzaky on an eight-count charge, including culpable homicide punishable with death,” the statement read.
“On Monday, 5th August 2019, the Kaduna High Court granted an application for medical leave filed by Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife, Mrs. Zeenah Ibrahim. The court specifically said it was granting the two defendants ‘leave to travel out of Nigeria for urgent medical treatment at Medanta Hospital, India, under strict supervision of the Respondent and to return to Nigeria (for continuation of trial) as soon as they are discharged from the hospital’.
“The Kaduna State Government respects the right of anyone to seek treatment anywhere in the world, even for malaria or common cold, so long as they are paying for it. But in the case of persons facing trial for serious offenses, necessary safeguards are required to ensure that such persons do not become fugitives from justice or frustrate trial by claiming asylum or the status of political prisoner in the host country.”
Aruwan said while the Kaduna government respects the court’s ruling on medical leave, it is not in agreement with the premises on which it is based, and will, therefore, file an appeal.
The statement said El-Zakzaky and his wife consented to being held in custody of the Department of State Services (DSS).
“The court ordered that the defendants be kept in prison custody and that the defendants be allowed access to their personal physicians alongside physicians of the State. However, at his request, Mr. Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife are being kept in SSS facilities which were deemed more comfortable than the Kaduna Prison,” the statement read.