- Says no court has ordered it to release defendants on bail
- Falana asks court to ignore fresh conditions
John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government has filed at the State High Court, terms for strict supervision of the medical leave granted to the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, to travel to India for medical treatment.
This is coming as IMN wednesday accused the police of holding on to the corpses of 12 of its members who died in the July 22 bloody clash between the group and security agents in Abuja.
A State High Court presided over by Justice Darius Khobo had on Monday granted permission to the Islamic leader and his wife to travel to India for medical treatment following their deteriorating health conditions since their arrest and detention in December 2015, when his followers clashed with the Nigerian Army in Zaria.
The court also ordered that officials of the state government must accompany the duo to supervise the treatment after which they would return to continue with their trial.
But the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, in a statement wednesday in Kaduna, said the state government had approached the court with its terms and conditions, for compliance with its earlier ruling, which must be strictly adhered to.
He said: “In compliance with the court ruling, the Kaduna State Government has filed at the Kaduna High Court terms for strict supervision of the medical leave, as follows:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall confirm the appointments of the defendants/applicants with the Medanta Hospital, India, and undertake all necessary diplomatic arrangements and protocols to ensure compliance with the conditions of the medical leave.
“Each of the defendants/applicants shall undertake to return to Nigeria to continue their trial as soon as they are discharged from the hospital, and shall also be responsible for the cost of their travel, treatment and living expenses while on their medical leave.
“Each of the defendants/applicants shall produce two prominent and reliable persons as sureties, one being a first class chief/emir of national repute and the other a prominent person within Kaduna State who shall undertake to produce the defendants whenever they are needed. The sureties must also produce evidence of landed property within Kaduna State.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria shall obtain from the Government of India an irrevocable guarantee that it will not entertain any application by the defendants/applicants or any third party seeking asylum under any guise or conferring the status of political prisoners or any other status aside from being medical patients on the defendants/applicants and shall also restrain the defendants/applicants from any act inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“Each of the defendants/applicants shall undertake in writing, endorsed by their counsel that while on medical treatment in India, they shall do nothing to jeopardise the ongoing trial, the peace and security of Nigeria and the laws of the Republic of India in whatever form.
“Security agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria shall escort the defendants/applicants and remain with them throughout the duration of their treatment in India and thereafter shall return with them after their discharge from the hospital.
“The Nigerian High Commission in India shall undertake prior vetting and grant consent before any visitor has access to the defendants/applicants while in the Republic of India.
“As is readily evident from the above, many of these terms of supervision depend for their actualisation on actions by the Federal Government of Nigeria which is the sovereign power vested with the constitutional responsibility for foreign affairs.
“While the Kaduna State government respects the court’s ruling on medical leave, it disagrees with the premises on which it is based.
“Therefore, an appeal will be lodged on the matter, but a stay of execution will not be sought as the state government believes that a person may choose to travel abroad for any medical condition at his own cost.”
Aruwan said the state government was prosecuting el-Zakzaky on an eight-count charge, including culpable homicide, punishable with death.
The government said it respected the right of anyone to seek treatment anywhere in the world, even for malaria or common cold, so long as they would be paying for it.
“But in the case of persons facing trial for serious offences, 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,” it said.
However, el-Zakzaky’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has stated that he hopes that the plan by the Kaduna State Government to appeal the court ruling has been shelved as the Court of Appeal has ruled that the court cannot stay the execution of orders of this nature.
“I hope that the plan to pursue an appeal in the case has been shelved as the Court of Appeal has ruled that you cannot stay the execution of orders of this nature,” he said, adding: “That remains the position of the law as espoused in the case of Mowarin v Nigerian Army, which was decided under a military dictatorship in the country.”
IMN Accuses Police of Detaining Members’ Bodies
Meanwhile, IMN yesterday accused the police of detaining bodies of 12 of its members who died in the July 22 bloody clash between the group and security agents in Abuja.
It also alleged that 63 members who were arrested during the protest were still in police custody despite the fact that 11 of them sustained injuries during the bloody confrontation.
The group, in a statement by one of its members, Abdullahi Musa, in Abuja, demanded the release of the 12 bodies to the deceased’s families for burial as well as freedom for the 63 detainees.
It said while nine of the deceased were killed at the scene of the clash, three others died in police custody.