How Buhari, El-Rufai clashed over El-Zakzaky’s travel

Shiite leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky finally left Nigeria for India aboard an Emirate Airline 6 pm Monday—after pitting Kaduna Gov. Nasir El-Rufai against President Muhammadu Buhari.

The governor had stacked up a list of stringent conditions—and he presented it to Buhari—for the Shiites leader to meet before he could travel out, according to court permission.

But according to PRNigeria, Buhari gave the clearance for the Shiites leader, disregarding El-Rufai’s terms.

The governor gave the conditions because the mayhem between the group and the Nigerian Army that led to Zakzaky detention since 2015 happened in Zaria, Kaduna.

The PRNigeria quoted sources as saying the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Department of State Services (DSS) pointedly advised the presidency on the appropriateness of obeying the court order without strings attached..

They also warned that meeting the conditions might take some time and cited the security implication of El-Zakzaky’s continued detention.

The security agencies also pointed to concerns raised by several foreign countries which had sent appeals to the Nigerian government to properly manage the issue, especially when El-Zakzaky’s health was deteriorating.

This is about the first time Buhari would disregard  his ally El-Rufai’s advice on national issues, especially as it relates to obeying court orders.

After the court granted Zakzaky and his wife medical  leave, the El-Rufai government had to  file at the Kaduna High Court terms for strict supervision of the medical leave, as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 jeopardize the ongoing trial, the peace and security of Nigeria and the laws of the Republic of India in whatever form.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.”

In his response, legal luminary, Femi Falana carpeted the El-Rufai administration.

He said the  so-called agreement the governor sought was totally alien to the penal code and the administration of criminal justice law of Kaduna State.

“Since the Department of Service Services (DSS), which has the custody of the El-Zakzakys, has announced on behalf of the Federal Government that the court order would be obeyed, the so-called terms of “agreements” of the Kaduna State government should be ignored because it is the height of provocative contempt.”