Abuja — A group of medical experts and consultants which conducted health assessments on Nigeria's top Muslim cleric Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, have recommended the couple to be flown abroad without further delay for treatments.
The medical delegation led by UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) which visited the El-Zakzakys at a Department of State Services, DSS, facility in Abuja comprised of an eye surgeon, a clinical cardiologist, an orthopaedic consultant and an emergency specialist.
Speaking in an interview, the leader of the delegation, Dr. Kazim Akber Dhalla, an eye surgeon, said: "From the preliminary assessments that we've done both the Sheikh (El-Zakzaky) and his wife are suffering multiple health problems. Some of them have already been discovered.
"However, our impression is that they will require further urgent assessments and more treatments, for certainty. Perhaps this will be done somewhere else, in higher centres, maybe outside the Nigeria."
Sheikh El-Zakzaky had lost his left eye in a raid carried out by the Nigerian army on his residence in Zaria late 2015.
During the raid, El-Zakzaky's wife also sustained serious wounds and more than 340 of his followers including three of his sons were killed. The Sheikh, his wife, and a large number of his followers have been in detention.
Since then, undaunted members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, under El-Zakzaky's leadership, have been staging regular street protests demanding the release of their leader and brethren from government detention.
However, the IHRC of London, which has also been an advocate for El-Zakzaky's release, acknowledged the federal government's change of position which made the medical mission possible and hoped the new stance will herald a resolution of the situation.
"After this preliminary assessments, the Nigerian government has got two choices; either to use this as a step to find real solutions that will be a win-win for everyone and bring this episode to some sort of legal conclusion or go back to the old ways which will resolve nothing and everyone would lose at the end," IHRC Spokesman, Massoud Shadjareh, said.
He added that the medical team, having successfully competed the first leg of their assignment, would issue a final report with details of their findings and recommendations.
El-Zakzaky's legal team is expected to present these recommendations before a judge of the Kaduna High Court when the case of murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace brought against the IMN leader comes up next time.