Head of the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Massoud Shajareh blasted the Indian government for treating Nigerian Shiite Leader Sheikh Zakzaky like a criminal, saying that he has been given a two-hour ultimatum to accept hospital incarceration and the tough conditions he is enduring for receiving treatment or go back to Nigeria.
“I have just received some very worrying news that the Indian government has given an ultimatum to Sheikh Zakzaky that either he agrees to be treated under the current situation and the way that he is being treated is extremely badly and indeed like a criminal,” Shajareh said with a worrying tone in an interview on Wednesday.
He said the Indian government has told the Muslim leader that he “will have no choice on what sort of treatment or how to receive (the treatment), or he will have to go back to Nigeria”.
Shajareh said that Zakzaky has been given two hours to answer, describing it as totally and utterly unacceptable considering the international and human rights standards and even India’s own rules.
Under much pressure by the Indian government and the Nigerian government’s security team that have kept him under tight security measures ever since he flew out of the African country along with his wife, Muslim Leader Sheikh Zakzaky is now left with only one more hour to declare his decision.
He reminded that the Nigerian leader is a man that has never been found guilty of anything and Nigeria’s highest court has ruled that he should be freed to be treated, hence he should not be treated in such a way that is even worse than a common criminal .
“This is really outrageous and we need to do something and all those who stand for justice need to respond,” Shajareh said.
His remarks came after Zakzaky’s daughter said that although her father had been transferred to India for treatment, he was under tight security measures in hospital.
Soheila Zakzaky said on Tuesday that her father was facing different clinical problems, including high blood pressure.
“Although that Sheikh Zakzaky has been transferred to India for treatment, he is not fully free and confined to the hospital building,” she added.
Meantime, the Nigerian embassy in India has announced that Zakzaky is under the mission’s control and the ambassador, himself, is supervising the procedure of his treatment.
In a statement, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife had left for Delhi, accompanied by a government security escort to ensure their return.
The group says he has suffered two minor strokes and is losing his sight.
Sheikh Zakzaky, a prominent Shiite leader, has been in detention along with his wife for close to four years despite the deterioration of his health conditions.
Last Tuesday, in an exclusive interview with FNA, Dr. Pourrahim Najafabadi, MD, said Sheikh Zakzaky needs to be cured by an experienced medical team of physicians in a specialized multi-specialty hospital outside Nigeria, since there is no such medical center in the African country.
“With the current physical condition of the Sheikh, especially the virulent lead poisoning, Sheikh’s life is seriously at risk by delayed treatment. Meanwhile, there is a need for special medical care even in case of complete medical treatment. There is serious risk to Sheikh’s life if he is kept under detention,” said Najafabadi, the founder and spokesperson of a group of expert physicians who have volunteered to treat Sheikh Zakzaky.
Also, last Sunday, a group of doctors from Pakistan, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq in a letter to the Nigerian government pointed to Sheikh Zakzaky’s physical conditions, and asked the Nigerian government to transfer him to a well-equipped hospital as soon as possible.
Among Zakzaky’s surviving children and supporters, concerns are mounting over his health. The 66-year-old cleric has lost vision in one eye and was in danger of “losing the second one,” his lawyer, Femi Falana, told reporters. Zakzaky and his wife still have “pellets of bullets in their bodies,” said Falana, which were sustained during their 2015 arrest.
The Shiite cleric was not present in court late in July for a bail hearing since his health was “very bad,” said Falana. “That is why we applied that he be excused from appearance in court and it was granted.”
On the occasion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second inauguration, Amnesty International has issued a report, Nigeria: Human Rights Agenda, a twenty-page indictment of human rights violations by “state and non-state actors,” but with the emphasis on the state security services. It calls on the Buhari administration to address perennial human rights abuses and makes specific recommendations as to what needs to be done.
The report begins with a review of the extensive constitutional and legal protections of human rights in Nigeria and also of the international human rights instruments that Nigeria has ratified, but concludes that Nigeria is facing a worsening human rights crisis across the country.
Human rights activists are concerned that given the Nigerian government’s dire human rights record, Sheikh Zakzaky’s return to prison would equal to his death.