By Abraham Otigba
Following the abrupt end to the medical vacation of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, there have been reactions from all angles, but it all looks like comic relief.
Nollywood, Nigeria’s home movie industry is getting enriched every day, with new actors and actresses. I love it’s comedy brand passionately because of it’s exhilarating treats.
When ace comedy actors like Nkem Owoh, Francis Odega, Mr. Ibu ( John Okafor) and the real stamp of comedy, Sam Loco ( of blessed memory) and so forth, perform their “miracles” on stage, I know God has blessed Nigeria.
These comic actors are ‘crooks,’ because they quietly steal both my money and laughter, even in depressive moods, very nicely.
I am happy for the inventors of Nollywood. At least, they have made a bold statement that Nigeria has not failed completely in every spectrum of life. None of us can deny that Nigeria’s entertainment industry is booming and creating waves globally.
Nollywood bristles with new entrants every minute; the formal and informal actors do not hesitate to congregate on our souls on humourous soul-refreshing trips. I enjoy it extremely.
Consequently, the nest of Nollywood has kept expanding for the entertainment of Nigerians. The latest informal entrant or sign- up actor into Nollywood’s world is Shiek Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, (IMN) popularly known as the Shiites in Nigeria.
We are aware of the nasty tales surrounding El- Zakzaky and his extremists adherents in Nigeria. Nigerians know about the lawful incarceration of El- Zakzaky and his wife as accomplices for alleged serious crimes against the state.
This spiritual leader of the Shiites sect has enviable guts. EL- Zakzaky dared both the FGN and the Kaduna State Government in devilry confrontations, dismissing the anger of Government as hogwash.
But queerly, El- Zakzaky and his followers believe in the creeds of the government of a foreign country, the Republic of Iran and its terrorists’ overlords in the Middle East. They hold it as sacrosanct.
Needless to say, El- Zakzaky and his wife, who have been under lawful custody and undergoing court trials for alleged culpable homicide, unlawful assembly and disruption of public peace and order, claimed multiple ailments while under custody. The charges against them are as many as the strands of hair.
Many deaths and destructions to public and private properties in Nigeria are directly or remotely allegedly linked to EL- Zakzaky, the Shiites spiritual leader. And his trial is only but gathering momentum now. The FGN is sorting it out with him at the Appeal Court; while the Kaduna State Government is also resolving some knotty issues with him at the State High Court.
So, the IMN leader and his wife applied to the court seeking permission to travel abroad for medical attention on the grounds of deteriorating health condition. And a Kaduna State High Court days back granted El-Zakzaky and his wife leave to travel to India for medical treatment under certain conditions and tight security.
EL- Zakzaky’s friend and counsel, Femi Falana who filed the application for medical leave nourished it by painting a graphically pathetic health condition of EL-Zakzaky and the wife. Personally, I was not opportune to see the IMN leader while in detention.
But the imageries of EL- Zakzaky’s ill-health as portrayed by Falana made some of us weep at the “cruelty,” of Government. Media photographs of him on the day he was released for the medical trip somewhat convinced some of us the severity of his medical afflictions.
Falana convinced the court into granting the application by insistently articulating that medical doctors in Nigeria have confirmed, EL- Zakzaky has already lost an eye in detention, which implied partial blindness. And the second eye may be lost to advanced glaucoma if no care is given to his health condition.
El-Zakzaky covenanted with the court to return to Nigeria, with his wife as soon as the Indian hospital discharged them after treatment.
Falana, SAN also listed other “threatening” health conditions affecting the IMN leader. And some Nigerians wailed, and the Shiites sect members kicked violently.
The ante was pushed higher for EL- Zakzaky by an assemblage of 186 medical doctors from seven countries namely – Pakistan, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. These are countries which pride as the bedrock and hubs of global terrorism. I am still trying to reconcile what motivated them into empathy for the IMN leader.
But the coalition of medical doctors wrote a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari drumming that EL-Zakzaky’s physical conditions demand that the Nigerian government transfers him to a well-equipped hospital for treatment.
The medical doctors argued in part; “He ( EL- Zakzaky) is suffering from total blindness in the left eye, and is also suffering from vision problems in the right eye including glaucoma and progressive macular atrophy.”
They cautioned that EL- Zakzaky, “will lose his vision sooner or later if the current circumstances do not change. He has shown symptoms of Ischemic heart disease which can lead to Myocardial Infarction.” It sounded frightening to me.
But ironically, it turned out to be a fluke and a movie scripted and acted by the IMN leader. I remember during arguments for his release for medical treatment, a defense counsel opposed it, positing that EL-Zakzaky’s ailment is treatable in Nigeria. But the court thought otherwise and granted the order.
But the moment of truth came sooner. You know, it’s deceptive to believe the actor’s world. The stage is quite different from reality and they care to warn us about their fictional content as merely acting or reflecting what they think of the world. Only an excursion into their minds reveals the real motive for the actions.
So, I was not surprised that EL-Zakzaky who opted for treatment in Medanta Hospital, India began to manifest early symptoms of distrust in Dubai, even before reaching India.
And in India, a man portrayed as very sick, partially blind and in some sense, a ” walking corpse,” physically unfit to stand trial had almost water-proof initiatives to break approved procedures for his movement and diplomatically scuttle his treatment and divert attention away from him.
A purportedly severely sick EL-Zakzaky and too frail to appear in Nigerian courts to defend allegations against him became very strong and dubiously calculative, craving to outsmart the security details around him.
Like my comedy movies idol, Sam Loco who connived with his wife and children to feign death in one of his classics to extort condolence money from friends and family members; in India EL- Zakzaky refused to subject himself to a preliminary medical examination; preferred lodging in a five-star hotel, instead of the hospital.
The IMN leader also requested that his international passport in the possession of state officials be handed over to him. Quite strange to the behavior of a very sick person as portrayed, EL-Zakzaky demanded freedom for free movement and access to assorted visitors all over the world and the withdrawal of Indian Police protection from him.
The state officials detailed around him are nice guys. They rejected all his requests. They sensed a sinister intention.
The trickish IMN leader was still not convinced that his ulterior motives for hiding under the guise of medical treatment to hoodwink the Court in Nigeria to grant his application for medical treatment. So, he took one more delve in the waters of luck.
EL-Zakzaky then demanded nomination of doctors of his choice to pair up with their colleagues at Medanta Hospital to perform medical treatment on him and his wife. The demand was in contravention of medical ethics and standard practice and so, dismissed. Everyone turned cold and amazed at his calculative shrewdness.
Both the Indian doctors and Nigerian State officials on the trip with El-Zakzaky were shocked at the miraculous recovery of a very “sick,” man whom many feared in the last two weeks, could die any minute if denial of medical attention is sustained. And he was personally contriving and working out these subversive or dodgy schemes.
I was motivated into this comic commentary on EL- Zakzaky because a tweet from a bemused African, Kikute thrilled me. Probably, Kikute also keenly monitored the EL-Zakzaky saga and laughed at the turn of events.
Kikute wrote on his Twitter: “Zakzaky walked. He talked. He glanced at his wristwatch and said the time. He is seeing clearly with his two eyes. Zakzaky is not sick. Baba Falana…nooooooo.”
I know, India is a no-nonsense country. And when the IMN leader thought he could blackmail the Indian Government when his plots to use India as his escape plank to evade justice failed, he embarked on the familiar grandstanding we know in Nigeria.
So, he cried out comically and coated it with the finesse of ” refusing treatment from unknown doctors.” He never bulged to the ultimatum issued him by the Indian Government to accept treatment or be returned back to Nigeria. It is the first time in my lifetime, a man supposedly on a dying bed still retains the senses of dictating which doctors should treat him. Only in movies it is possible!
By now, EL- Zakzaky must have been flown back to Nigeria. But deep down in his heart, he knows feigning the gravity of his ailment.
The Court application for medical treatment was designed to open a window for the IMN leader to escape justice. What else can I fathom outside that while in India, medication became secondary agenda; and he had his eyes fixed on the comfort of luxuriating in the urban cities and countrysides of India, outside the confines of the hospital.
Next to it, was how to perfect his plot of asylum in India, intent on relocating to another country in the nearest future in total disregard for international procedures. EL-Zakzaky clandestinely initiated contacts with a team of lawyers led by Ali Zia Kabir Chaudary and Gunjan Singh in India as well as some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), such as the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and other Shiite groups to execute this agenda.
The personalities and groups were mandated to procure the leave of a court in India to grant the IMN leader leave to relocate to another country, instead of returning to Nigeria. He knows it was impossible under the terms and conditions the court permitted him to travel for medication, but he nonetheless, acted it. But the Indian Government avoided the IMN leader like a plague and frustrated his plots to discreetly use India as a platform to internationalise his IMN version of Shiites sect.
Therefore, welcome back to Nigeria EL- Zakzaky! The proposed blockbuster comedy movie production abroad is over. What you had was a rehearsal and time to act the final script is now in Nigeria by facing the courts to defend the allegations against you. It is a settled matter because the IMN leader has recovered from sickness superbly. How I wish my friend Sam Loco were alive to fete his exact replica.
Otigba is a forensic psychologist and writes from the University of Lagos.