Nigerian Shiite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, on Monday flew out of the country to receive medical treatment in India in spite of stringent conditions attached to his bail by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
“The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife have at last just left Nigeria for India alongside some family members and security operatives,” his supporters said in a statement.
Two of his lawyers confirmed the cleric’s departure from the capital Abuja on an Emirates flight.
El-Zakzaky had been in custody along with his wife, Zeenah Ibrahim, since their arrest in December 2015 after violence that saw the army kill some 350 of his followers.
Fears over the couple’s health had fuelled a wave of recent protests in Abuja that descended into bloodshed after a brutal crackdown from security forces.
A court last week granted permission for them to receive medical care in India under Nigerian government supervision.
The authorities insist they must return to Nigeria to stand trial once their treatment is completed.
PRNigeria learnt from security circles that President Muhammadu Buhari may have waved El-Zakzaky’s stringent conditions and approved that the IMN leader should proceed to get the medical attention as granted by the court and based on the advice from intelligence services.
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Department of State Security Service (DSS) who had been working behind the scene to resolve the impasse occasioned by the detention of Shiite leader have advised the Presidency on the appropriateness of obeying the court orders since some foreign interests including the Iranian government have sought a diplomatic approach in managing the issue.
Speaking to PRNigeria on the latest development, a human rights activist and lawyer to Mr El-Zakzaky, Femi Falana, said the government disregarded the so-called stringent conditions of the Kaduna State government before the Shiite leader and his wife could embark on the medical trip abroad.
Mr Falana said the conditions stipulated by Kaduna State are totally alien to the penal code and the administration of criminal justice law because the agreement is not brought under any substantive or adjectival law and an agreement cannot vary or modify the order of a competent court.
The lawyer said that since the secret service which had the custody of the El-Zakzaky, had announced on behalf of the federal government that the court order would be obeyed, the so-called terms of “agreements” of the Kaduna State Government should be ignored because it is the height of provocative contempt.