By Philip Agbese
The supremo of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Sheik Ibrahim el-Zakzaky finally had his wish to travel abroad for medical treatment granted. This should ordinarily have been a good development, especially in a country where the perception is that getting treatment abroad is the ultimate when healthcare is concerned. But for el-Zakzaky, it turned out to be a “one chance” trip to India. A trip that has exposed his branded victimhood to be a sham.
“One Chance” is the street parlance for a form or robbery targeted at lone commuters. Usually the bus or car would be almost fully occupied by passengers save the last seat, sometimes two, while the driver or conductor in the case of a bus will be bellowing that there is one more chance left such that the prospective victim is encouraged to join the ride. The trouble is, within minutes of picking their victim, the occupants of the vehicle would show their true nature by robbing them and throwing them out of the vehicle while on motion – this had proven fatal in too many instances.
El-Zakzaky attempted to pull such trick on Nigeria and the world. He would have succeeded but for the thoroughness and professionalism of the Nigerian security personnel that accompanied him on the trip, coupled with the sterling diplomatic behaviour on the part of India.
It is now obvious that the man was never ill on the scale propagated by his members and the Iranian doctors they brought into Nigeria in April to blackmail the government into sending him for treatment abroad. Yes, he might have appeared frail when he last appeared in public view but that can be accounted for by his age and the injuries he suffered during his arrest. But to cook up the lie of a dying man just so that he can attempt to pull the “one chance” trick on the rest of us is the height of irresponsibility. In his own case, the stunt he wanted to pull was to slink off from the custody of the security guarding him and from there head for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
From the information surfacing after India was compelled to throw him out of their jurisdiction, it is now certain that he rejected the flight provided by the government and opted for a commercial flight with a stopover that he had hope he could exploit, which explains why he reportedly pestered the security personnel for his passport during the stopover. We now have an insight into why a man, who with the assistance of his legal counsel and doctors, claimed to be grievously ill will request to first be checked into a hotel as opposed to rushing to meet with his doctors. There is now a basis to question how it was possible for a man as sick as earlier reported, who left Nigeria wearing an oxygen mask, to vigorously reject treatment with lame excuses like the doctors on call being strangers to him or that they were going to run new tests on him.
The recalcitrance he demonstrated to his host is confirmation that people can pretend but can never hide their bad attitude or character. For a man who presents himself as the beleaguered president of Shiite republic in Nigeria, reason should have prevailed on him to leverage his scheduled treatment in India to project himself and his group’s ideology in a manner that would have secured him international understanding and possibly sympathy. Instead, he demonstrated the only reasoning he is capable of, a rabid hatred of organized society, a disavowal of structured government and a fanatical subservience to Iran with robotic commitment to do its bidding of spreading terror across the world.
Not even the warning and ultimatum from the Indian government could jolt him to have a rethink. All he could think of was the relaxing of the conditions around him so that he would find the loophole or gap to escape so that he can report to Iran. If he had found his way to Iran a stalemate would have ensued. Iran will not agree to repatriate him, India would have been left in a quandary of how he allowed a flagged terrorist to escape from its jurisdiction while Nigeria would have become the target of terrorist propaganda that el-Zakzaky would have been directing from Iran.
Once it became clear that one chance ploy will not work the same man that had amped the cry for foreign treatment through his members, NGOs, Shia doctors amongst others, suddenly abandoned the much sought after treatment. To give himself a soft landing, he mentioned a list of other countries where he claimed he could get satisfactory treatment – never mind that these are countries with ties to Iran from where he will escape without resistance. It should be noted that video he made to list this demand clearly showed a man who is not as sick as his Iranian doctors had claimed. It also gives an indication to his real motive for trying to escape, first from Nigeria then later in transit and in India. His intention is to get to Iran.
It is unfortunate that as Nigerians, we are never keen on exacting consequences for bad behaviour, we may allow this ugly scheme to go unquestioned. It is the reason that “One Chance” suspects sometimes get lynched by those who have had bitter experiences at their hands; it is because people do not trust the system to punish such criminals and their accomplices sufficiently. In the case of the fraudulent Indian trip, the questions are not for el-Zakzaky, he is back to Nigeria and will continue to face his trial. The consequences we should exact as is from those that assisted him to perpetrate the attempted fraud.
El-Zakzaky’s counsel, Femi Falana, should at this time be explaining if his client is as sick as he misled the court to believe. If he was as sick he would not be in a hurry to run from India after discovering that he cannot lam to Iran from there. Falana should make this explanation against the backdrop of other claims and assertions he has made on behalf of IMN and its leader.
We must also question the commercialized NGOs and their coordinator, Amnesty International, which had held up el-Zakzaky as the poster child for a supposed government clampdown on dissention. They were the ones that mounted the pressure, including supporting disruptive protests, that paved way for the questionable medical evaluation that preceded the trip to India. We should at this point begin to ponder all the figures and statistics that this group have published in their spurious reports in the past. If they were part of the fake scheme for el-Zakzaky to escape in the course of seeking treatment abroad then they are not trustworthy enough for their views are reports to be acceptable. It they were not part of it and were taken in then they are not reliable and thorough enough to be taken seriously. Going forward, these groups should be disregarded.
The Federal Government must on its part ensure that unlike “one chance” criminals that rob people without consequences those identified as propping up the IMN/el-Zakzaky Indian scam are made to answer for their crime. In doing this, the government should disregard the pontification of the pro-terrorists crowds that will allege a “harsh crackdown” on dissent. After all, el-Zakzaky has helped us confirmed that he enjoys better in Nigerian detention than the five-star hospital he checked into in India, which in his words was not as comfortable as our Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison. If a once chance medical tourist knows this who are we to disagree?
Agbese wrote this piece from the United Kingdom.