By - Usman Sanusi
The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife, Zinat, are set to travel to India for medical treatment.
This is in accordance with a recent ruling by the Kaduna High Court permitting the couple to seek treatment for their failing health after nearly four years in detention.
The two were arrested in Kaduna in December 2015 after soldiers killed over 300 members of the IMN when the sect clashed with the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai.
Corporal Yakubu Dankaduna, a soldier, was allegedly killed by IMN members when he alighted from Buratai’s convoy to disperse the group’s procession during the confrontation.
The government ignored a December 2016 ruling of a Federal High Court to release them.
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In May 2018, El-Zakzaky and Zinat were eventually arraigned before the Kaduna High Court and charged with unlawful gathering, criminal conspiracy and culpable homicide, and denied bail by the court months later in November.
However, after filing a fresh application in July, the court granted El-Zakzaky and Zinat leave to travel to India for medical attention due to their failing health conditions in a ruling that was delivered on August 5.
The two defendants were spotted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Monday where they’ll eventually leave for India.
“El-Zakzaky is travelling out to India tonight with his wife as ordered by the Kaduna State High Court,” their counsel, Femi Falana, told The Punch.
In his ruling, Justice Darius Khobo said the defendants will be accompanied by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), as well as other officials of the Kaduna State government.
The defendants will also remain at the approved Medanta Hospital in New Delhi, India until they make a complete recovery after which they’ll return to Nigeria for the continuation of the trial.
El-Zakzaky’s continued detention has led to allegations of persecution by members of his sect who have taken to the streets several times in protest, leading to clashes with security agencies that have left dozens dead and hundreds incarcerated over the past year.
Last month, the Federal Government secured a court order to proscribe the group’s activities and brand it a terrorist organisation, a move that has been widely criticised.
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