FG, El-Zakzaky premier in Bollywood, By Owei Lakemfa

Indian films from Bollywood were the mainstay of the movie industry in Nigeria far outstripping the American Hollywood. That was long before the Nigeria Nollywood made its entrance. Those were the days of famous Indian actors like Dharmendra, Prem Chopra, Feroz Khan,  Hema Malini, Helen,  Shashi Kapoor and  Rajesh Khanna who produced mega hits like  Sholay, Love in Tokyo and Jugnu.

Nigeria was perhaps Bollywood’s largest international  market, but I do not recall  Nigerians playing roles in Indian films until last week when the Nigerian government and its most famous detainee, Sheikh Ibraheem EL-Zakzaky decided to enact a real life drama in India.

The Buhari administration and El- Zakzaky have  for  four years now, staged life tragic live  performances  in various cities including Zaria, Kaduna and Abuja in which about four hundred Nigerians have been killed.

The drama in Indian would have been avoided if the government had obeyed at least three court orders excluding that of the ECOWAS Court which had ruled over the past three years that El-Zakzaky   be freed. Far back 2016, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court had ordered the Federal Government to free the cleric and his wife, Zeenat, and pay them N50 million. Rather than obey the courts, government decided to play politics leading to   endless drama productions including the latest play on the international stage with India as location.

The prism from which I view  the various films is that government is a judgement-debtor who is writing scripts and acting in them to present El-Zakzaky and his Shiite followers as stubborn terrorists who need to be perpetually locked up or proscribed.  On the other hand, El-Zakzaky is a judgement-creditor who should have been set free years ago rather than the comedy of taking him through courts of same jurisdiction as if they are appellate   courts.

India was chosen as the setting of new movie for medical purposes. The cleric explains: “There is a bullet in Zeenat’s body and there is also the need for her to get her two knee caps replaced amongst other ailments. On my own part, there are also particles of bullets that were broken into pieces in my eyes, hands and thighs which have been poisonous to my body.” The government agreed both need specialized medical treatment which India  offered.

On a personal level, I feel pained that Nigerians would need to go to India for medical treatment when in the 1960s  and 1970s, our medical system was far  ahead. In fact, the Nigerian education system was regarded as being so superior that degrees from  India were officially classified as  equivalent to our Advanced Level (A-Level) certificate. Well, that is the level of our degeneracy, back to  the disgraceful drama   in India.

First let us examine El-Zakzaky’s claims. He said he and his wife  refused treatment because the Indian doctors that examined them  in Nigeria, were all excluded: “We then told them we won’t allow any other doctor aside our trusted doctors to attend to us so that they don’t do to us what they couldn’t do with their bullets in Nigeria.”

I think a patient having confidence in his doctors is fundamental especially when he fears what was done to retired General Musa Yar’ Adua in Nigeria, could also be done to him.

Secondly, he complained: “All what we have seen here, have shown us that there is no trust, they just brought us here for another detention …They didn’t even allow me to go to the next room, I started asking myself, all these while I’ve been in detention, I’ve never seen this type. Even if I’m in the cell, they usually lock us up around 9 p.m. and open the cell around 7 a.m. and they allow us to go anywhere we want in the area we are.” If these claims were true, then he had every right to protest, more so when previous courts in Nigeria, had freed him.

The psychological  state  of a 66-year old man with  pellets lodged in him for years, who has now lost an eye in detention, lost  six sons to the bullets of the Nigerian state, whose home and centre of worship have been destroyed, and the organization he spent his youth, building has been proscribed, needs to be properly managed.

The Federal Government’s statement issue by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess   Grace Isu Gekpe did not do much justice to us as a country. The language needed to be civil; it was uncalled for describing  the Sheikh as exhibiting  “unruly behavior”

It was also a shame that  the Indian government  refuted our government’s claim that: “Frustrated by his antics, the Indian authorities have expressed willingness to return him to Nigeria with immediate effect.” The Indian High Commission in reaction to this claim, simply tweeted: “There is no condition or ultimatum by India.”   

Government’s substantive claims against El-Zakzaky in the India drama was  that  first: “He requested that his passport be handed over to him…” What is the issue here? If the cleric wants to escape or seek political asylum, he does not need a passport.

Secondly, that: “In addition, he demanded free movement and access to visitors of all kinds as well as requested to be allowed to check into a 5-Star Hotel instead of being admitted in the hospital.” How can a man be  confined  to a room or ward? Even a caged dog is allowed to stretch its legs or taken for walks. He should have been entitled to visitors provided they are screened. That he wanted to stay in a 5-Star hotel is his business so long as he did not ask the government to pay. All that is necessary, is arrangement with the hospital, and if the later can cope. A man with medical conditions who has been incarcerated for four years against court orders, can naturally seek some comfort.

Government said this was denied because the “Visa was issued on medical grounds and not for tourism.” What logic! So if a tourist wants medical care, he would be denied? Conversely, why can’t a person seeking medical care also enjoy some tourism? That may actually aid his recovery which should be the ultimate goal. Besides, what the cleric and other Nigerians who go abroad for medical  better treatment are engaged in, is medical tourism. El-Zakzaky and his wife in India, were tourists!

Well, the Bollywood film has ended. We are back to Nollywood. New films are likely unless the government wants to end these unnecessary distractions by engaging in dialogue. If government can engage in negotiations with the terrorist Boko Haram, then it also can with El-Zakzaky and his   Islamic Movement of Nigeria who unlike the former, do not carry arms.

Spread the story




Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*