…Wants Int’l community to prevail on FG to release the Shi’ites leader’s travel documents
By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
The Coalition for Human Rights Development (CfHD) has appealed to the Federal Government and the international community to ensure the release of the international passports of Shi’ites leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah.
The civil society group also pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari, the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom to do everything in their powers to help the couple obtain other necessary documents to enable them to seek medical attention abroad.
In a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, CfHD Director, Dr Umar Abubakar, noted that for about six years, several 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.
He, however, lamented that both the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the Department of State Security (DSS) have denied being in possession of the couple’s travel documents after they regained freedom from security custody through the ruling of a Kaduna High Court.
The CSO said, “Three months 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 Security (DSS) have denied being in possession of the international passports of the couple.”
The statement alleged that during the botched medical trip to India three years ago, as granted by the Kaduna High Court, the international travel documents were promptly seized on arrival by these security agencies.
“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.
“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.
“The Coalition for Human Rights Development 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 the Government.
“Hence, we call on the international community, especially the US, UK and Canadian Governments to prevail on the government to release the passports of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife,” Abubakar said.
He further 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.