THE Federal government has officially declared the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) led by Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, a terrorist group in the country and thereby ban its activities.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, announced the proscription of the Shi’ite sect at a press conference on Tuesday held at the force headquarters, Abuja.
Adamu said any person who associates with the group would be treated as an enemy of Nigeria.
“Any person engaged or associating, in any manner that could advance the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, shall be treated as a terrorist, enemy of the State, and a subversive element and shall be brought to justice within the context of the Terrorism Act.
“The import of this is that all forms of procession or protest by IMN is now illegal and thus banned, he said.”
The recent development came after a protest conducted by the group on July 22 which turned brutal, leading to the death of Usman Umar, Deputy Commissioner of Police and Precious Owolabi, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who was serving with the Channels Television.
The Shiite group has held a continuous protest for the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-zakzaky with his wife, Zeenat who have been in the confinement of the Department of State Security (DSS) since 2015.
On Last Friday, a federal high court in Abuja had also ordered the proscription of the activities and existence of IMN following an ex parte application filed by the federal government through the office of the attorney-general of the federation. The court declared that the activities of the group in any part of the country “amounts to acts of terrorism and illegality”.
Giving the reasons for the banning of IMN on Tuesday, Adamu said the activities of the group had overtime constituted a “grave threat to the national security, law and order, socio-religious harmony, peace, good governance and the sovereign integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The police boss said some of the group activities included the pledging of allegiance to foreign countries. He added that the group was enjoying political, financial and training support from these countries with the “aim of advancing their destabilising intents within Nigeria”.
“Unauthorised blocking of public highways, engagement in illegal roadblocks, imposition of illegal curfews and checkpoints, raids on security assets, prevention of arrest of their members, invasion of court premises to abort legal proceedings involving IMN members, refusal to submit to ordinary security checks and attacks on security agents which led to the death of several Nigerians,” Adamu outlined.
The police said the sect had set-up a para-military guard known as ‘Hurras’. And the force accused that the Hurras has been terrorising the local residents.
“They have also instituted unregistered security outfits and performed paramilitary ceremonies, hoisting of flags, combat exercises, parades and inspection by the IMN leader reminiscent of State authority.
“Let me affirm that in relation to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, in view of their increasing engagement of terror tactics and other violent and subversive activities which contravene the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013, as amended, and vide the judicial pronouncement of the Federal High Court, Abuja on 26th July, 2019, the federal government has classified them as a terrorist group and has accordingly, proscribed the El-Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement in Nigeria,” said police.
Meanwhile, Adamu made it clear that the Shi’ite sect remained free to practice their faith.
“For the purpose of clarification, Nigeria is a secular state with constitution provisions guaranteeing the freedom to practice our faith. This, however, must be exercised in a manner that will not threaten our national security,” he said.
Adamu clarified that the El-Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement in Nigeria, which “does not recognise or accept the constitution and government of the federation, is the sole organisation that has been classified as a terrorist organisation and proscribed.”