Nigeria

IMN urges Nigerian government to release Sheikh Zakzaky’s travelling documents

Justice Darius Khobo of Kaduna State High Court, on Thursday, adjourned hearing in the application for permission to travel to India for medical attention filed by Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zinat, to July 29.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has urged the federal government to release the international passports of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, to enable them to travel abroad for medical attention.

In a statement by the spokesman of the IMN, Ibrahim Musa, yesterday, the group said the government had not returned their international passport to them since the medical trip which was allegedly scuttled by the government in 2018.

Musa said both the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) had denied being in possession of the couple’s travelling documents since their release following the ruling of a Kaduna High Court.

The duo were detained for over five years and were being prosecuted for alleged culpable homicide among other charges following a clash between IMN members and soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December 2015.

The Kaduna State High Court, under trial Justice Gideon Kuradah, had in a ruling on July 28, 2021, said the Kaduna government failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants, and accordingly discharged and acquitted them.

However, after their release, the state government filed fresh charges against them at the Federal High Court, bordering on alleged terrorism and treasonable felony.

The IMN lamented that “four weeks after being discharged and acquitted by a Kaduna State High Court, El-Zakzaky, and his wife, were yet to travel abroad for medical treatment as their international passports are still being held by security agencies and a new one has not been issued to them.

“Both the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) have denied being in possession of the international passports of the couple.”

The statement alleged that during the botched medical trip to India last year, “as granted by the Kaduna High Court, their international travel documents were promptly seized on arrival by these security agencies.”

The statement asked: Thus, who did they hand over to that wasn’t too long ago not to remember or know?

“Were these international passports handed over to certain powerful persons in government, as is being speculated, who are using their powers and influence to further detain the Sheikh and his wife thereby denying them the freedom granted by the Nation’s courts?

“We hope this is not another evil machination of those in the corridors of power in Nigeria to deny the couple access to medical treatment.”

Musa said for about six years, medical reports have indicated that the health condition of the Islamic leader and his wife has deteriorated and they needed to travel overseas for treatment.

“That was the basis for the Kaduna State High Court granting them medical leave which was later scuttled by the government in 2018.

“Muslim brothers and sisters of the Islamic Movement and other lovers of justice across the world are getting agitated once again because of these obnoxious developments including what appears to be placing the duo under house arrest by Buhari regime.

“Hence, we call on the international community to prevail on the government to release the passports of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife,” Musa said.

He urged the federal government to release their passports to them or issue new ones to them, which would enable them to travel to the hospital of their choice without any further delay.

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