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Powerful Forces In Government, Northern Governors Reject El-Zakzaky's Iran Medical Trip

Fresh facts have emerged that the Federal Government may not grant the request of the  Islamic Republic of Iran that the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, be released for medical treatment in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

A reliable government source told Saturday PUNCH that powerful forces within the government were not favourably disposed to the request.
The source also gave details of a high-level security meeting held in Katsina on Thursday of the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, and governors from 11 states in the North.

Although the meeting, on the surface, was concerned about the general security challenges facing the country, the source, who is a senior intelligence operative, told one of our correspondents that the Shiite situation dominated the discussion.

However, because of the sensitive nature of the subject, the details of the discussion were not made public.

Although the meeting was held behind closed doors, the source revealed that the governors and the IGP felt that releasing El-Zakzaky to Iran for medical treatment could cause a major security problem for Nigeria in the near future.

“It was concluded at that meeting that the idea of granting Iran’s request that El-Zakzaky should be sent to them for treatment would never happen. And even if he was released, allowing him to travel out of the country would never happen because that would be like giving him a passport to go and rearm,” the source said.

However, Saturday PUNCH learnt that talks were ongoing between the Federal Government and Iran over the release of the Shiite leader while findings also showed that the IMN was not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

Recall that the Prosecutor-General (Attorney-General) of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammed Montazeri, had penultimate Friday written a letter to the Federal Government of Nigeria asking the government to allow El-Zakzaky to come to Iran for medical treatment.

Montazeri, who also criticised the Federal Government’s handling of the crisis, said El-Zakzaky’s current medical condition had become a source of worry.

The letter read in part, “I, as the prosecutor general of the Islamic Republic of Iran, urge the Nigerian judicial authorities (to take steps) in line with their judicial independence and support for a captive citizen, and provide the ground for his release and transfer him to the Islamic Republic of Iran for treatment.”

But stakeholders at the security meeting believed that if allowed to go to Iran on medical grounds, the IMN leader could become very powerful and begin to foment trouble from overseas while causing security problems for Nigeria back home.

According to them, such a decision can also undermine the government’s efforts to clip the wings of the Shiites who have become violent over the Federal Government’s continued detention of El-Zakzaky.

“He would amass so much influence before ever returning; he could even seek asylum there and start fomenting trouble here. These are based on the intelligence that the Department of State Services gathered,” the source stated.

One of the governors present at the meeting, who is from the North-West, according to the source, specifically said at the meeting that as long as he remained the governor and the chief security officer of his state, he would never support the Federal Government to grant Iran’s request.

The governor, who has a very significant number of Shiites living in his state, said he would never tolerate a situation where IMN members would continue to live as if they were in Iran, adding that they could go to Iran to practise their religion if they wanted the freedom of worship.

The meeting, which had the Commissioners of Police from the 11 states in attendance, also had in attendance a Presidency representative from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

The source added, “They (Shiites) have been proscribed. So, there is a possibility for them to resort to violence like Boko Haram. Naturally, it is expected that the northern governors, as chief security officers of their states, have to rub minds as to what measure can be put in place to nip the issue in the bud, so that the situation at hand does not degenerate to the level of the Boko Haram insurgency.

“(Governors of) Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bornu, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Adamawa were there (at the meeting). Not all the northern states are flashpoints of insecurity. A chunk of those Shiites are from Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina.”

He added, “The SGF’s representative was there. It was the IGP that actually chaired the meeting; Governors Nasir el-Rufai, Aminu Tambuwal and Abdullahi Ganduje were there.

“One of the governors, who is believed to be very outspoken about the IMN issue, advised that everything should be done to ensure that the Shiite movement does not degenerate into another Boko Haram.  He said that they had curtailed their activities in Kaduna State and that they (Shiites) said that they didn’t recognise the Constitution, the President and the governor of the state, but were only loyal to the Quran, they should go to Iran to so that they can practise that 100 per cent.”

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