A peaceful protest by the supporters of jailed Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky in Abuja lasted only a few minutes as protesters quickly dispersed in order to avoid crackdown by security forces who were rushing to the scene to launch attacks.
Demonstrators called on the Nigerian authorities to expedite Sheikh Zakzaky’s release process after a court granted him bail to seek medical treatment abroad.
The bail was granted on August 5 but later the Kaduna state government issued what it called a terms of agreement for the release of Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife.
The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, in a statement Wednesday in Kaduna, said the state government had approached the court with its terms and conditions, for compliance with its earlier ruling, which must be strictly adhered to.
He said: “In compliance with the court ruling, the Kaduna State Government has filed at the Kaduna High Court terms for strict supervision of the medical leave, as follows:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall confirm the appointments of the defendants/applicants with the Medanta Hospital, India, and undertake all necessary diplomatic arrangements and protocols to ensure compliance with the conditions of the medical leave.
“Each of the defendants/applicants shall undertake to return to Nigeria to continue their trial as soon as they are discharged from the hospital, and shall also be responsible for the cost of their travel, treatment and living expenses while on their medical leave.
“Each of the defendants/applicants shall produce two prominent and reliable persons as sureties, one being a first class chief/emir of national repute and the other a prominent person within Kaduna State who shall undertake to produce the defendants whenever they are needed. The sureties must also produce evidence of landed property within Kaduna State.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria shall obtain from the Government of India an irrevocable guarantee that it will not entertain any application by the defendants/applicants or any third party seeking asylum under any guise or conferring the status of political prisoners or any other status aside from being medical patients on the defendants/applicants and shall also restrain the defendants/applicants from any act inimical to the corporate existence of Nigeria.
“Each of the defendants/applicants shall undertake in writing, endorsed by their counsel that while on medical treatment in India, they shall do nothing to jeopardise the ongoing trial, the peace and security of Nigeria and the laws of the Republic of India in whatever form.
“Security agents of the Federal Government of Nigeria shall escort the defendants/applicants and remain with them throughout the duration of their treatment in India and thereafter shall return with them after their discharge from the hospital.
“The Nigerian High Commission in India shall undertake prior vetting and grant consent before any visitor has access to the defendants/applicants while in the Republic of India.
Zakzaky supporters described this turn of events as mean and mischievous.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Zakzaky’s lawyer, Femi Falana has denounced the terms of agreement of the Kaduna state government. He says the move is sign of provocative contempt which should be ignored.
The cleric’s lawyer said the Department of State Services (DSS) has already announced on behalf of the Nigerian government that it would obey the order of the court which has granted medical bail to the cleric and his wife.
Sheikh Zakzaky has been in detention for close to four years despite a previous ruling ordering his release.
Soldiers of the Nigerian army attacked the cleric’s residence back in December 2015 in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria killing hundreds his supporters.