The sudden and unexpected news of the former first democratically elected Egyptian President, Mohammed Morsi, who was reportedly said to have slumped and died in court has been causing considerable unease and agitation among members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, whose ailing leader and his wife are standing trial at a Kaduna High Court for framed up charges.
Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife have been unjustifiably detained by the Department of State Security (DSS) since middle of December of 2015 when the Nigerian Army spent the most of that eventful weekend in an orgy of killings, arson and rape at their Gyellesu residence, resulting in the untimely deaths of over a thousand unarmed citizens, including three of their sons.
Both of them (Sheikh Zakzaky and the wife) were also severally shot before dragging their near lifeless bodies over the corpses of their sons into detention three and half years ago, without adequate medical care.
About 18 months ago, the Sheikh was said to have suffered a mild stroke in detention, with some media houses then reporting that he had given up the ghost, and the government was forced to make him make a very brief public television appearance at the time for the first time since his detention in order to debunk the rumours of his death in detention.
The government then hurriedly framed up charges against them and presented them to court in Kaduna, despite repeated pronouncements that both were innocent. “El-Zakzaky’s wife isn’t in detention, but merely keeping her husband company and she is free to walk out anytime,” a presidential spokesman had once told journalists. The government also insisted further that the Sheikh didn’t do anything wrong, but they are being kept in “protective custody.”
The government has however continued to detain them both in contempt of an Abuja Federal High Court judgement delivered by Mr. Justice Gabriel Kolawole declaring their detention as unlawful and in violation of their fundamental rights, and therefore, ordered for their unconditional release.
In the meantime, the health situation of both of them continues to deteriorate in custody. Sheikh Zakzaky, who has been a known hypertensive patient before the military attack, had lost one of his eye in the course of the military onslaught and risks losing completely his sight due to inadequate management of his health conditions, was observed to be frail and significantly lost weight the last time he appeared in court. Similar situation is playing out in the case of the wife, who is now no longer ambulant except with the aid of a wheelchair and is constantly in severe pains from the multiple shrapnel dangerously embedded in her body.
The lead Counsel to the duo had to make a special application praying that the duo must be allowed access to medical experts in January this year. It however took almost four months before foreign medical experts could be allowed to assess their situation. The preliminary report indicate that both must be flown abroad urgently for further expert medical attention. The government is yet to heed this medical advice by experts.
In the meantime, as their health situation deteriorates, their trial has stalled unnecessarily. Their lawyers had alerted the courts that they must be allowed to attend to their health, because “only the living can stand trial.”
It was therefore not surprising that members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria received the sudden news of the collapse and death of the Egyptian former President in the court room while being tried with so much anxieties and unease.
Egypt was one of the countries Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari visited on the 18th of February, 2016 about eight weeks after the heinous Zaria massacre to understudy how the Egyptian military has been dealing with the Egyptian Brotherhood Movement, under which the late Morsi contested and won election to become the President. It was from Egypt that he proceeded to Saudi Arabia between 22-27 February, 2016 (where he was joined by many of the politicians and Clerics that supported the Zaria massacre) and also to Qatar between 27-28 February, 2016 where he made his infamous gaffes, when for the first time he owned up that they carried out the attacks in Zaria to curtail Iranian influence in Nigeria.