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 of 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.
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 him to escape from its jurisdiction while Nigeria would have become the target of 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 asked 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.
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.