Authorities of the Nigerian correctional facility in Kaduna State say they are not aware that the wife of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) tested positive for COVID-19.
The statement followed calls from the IMN for the release of Zeenat El-Zakzaky after her son announced she has tested positive for the disease. Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat, are in custody at the facility.
The comptroller of the facility, Ibrahim Maradun, said he was yet to receive the test result after a sample was taken from the woman on Wednesday by officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“As far as I am concerned, the Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) officials took her sample on Wednesday around 5 p.m. and I am yet to receive the result,” Mr Maradun said.
“She has been in isolation since that day. Her personal physician has been seeing her from time to time in the company of the doctors representing the state and the correctional service.”
The facility had earlier debunked reports of the infection, saying there was “no such incident in any of our facilities, as all our inmates are safe and highly protected from the virus,” Mr Maradun.
“Because we have been doing our own due diligence and taking all possible measures at all times, we imagined that they were safe from the clear and present danger of COVID-19. To the best of my knowledge, the prison authorities have also been doing the same.
“Once I heard of the result, my first act was to ensure that it was tested and confirmed,” he said.
A son of Zeenat, Muhammad El-Zakzaky, had on Friday, expressed concerns about his mother’s condition.
“Six days ago after a routine visit to the Kaduna State prison by my parent’s doctors, my mother complained of fatigue, fever and a complete loss of the ability to smell. The doctors decided to carry out a number of standard tests in order to understand what the problem was.
“Among the tests that were carried out was a test for the novel coronavirus also known as COVID-19. This was a routine procedure and it is important to understand that she has been denied treatment for acute medical conditions including severe arthritis of the knee for years now.
“The COVID-19 test came back positive. I imagined that due to the diligent way in which the prison management had been conducting and managing the facility, a COVID-19 outbreak would be extremely unlikely.”
Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since 2015 after some of his followers were involved in a bloody face-off with Nigerian soldiers over right of way in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The spokesperson of the movement, Ibrahim Musa on Friday, had also raised concerns on the continued detention of the IMN leader and his wife, Zeenat.
The group said it was disturbed that even six days after contracting the COVID-19 at Kaduna prison, the Sheikh’s wife has not been taken to any specialised hospital for such patients to receive proper medical care.
“She has been denied treatment for acute medical conditions, including severe arthritis of the knee for five years now,” Mr Musa, president of IMN media forum, said in a statement.
“Given her underlying medical conditions and age, her infection places her at heightened risk of severe illness and death. Sheikh Zakzaky himself suffers from many underlying conditions, which put him at high risk of developing life-threatening symptoms should he contract the virus,” he said.
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