Following the ban on its activities by the Kaduna state government last week, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), also known as Shiites, has said it has no intention of obeying such a directive as it violates members’ rights of association and worship.
“We wish to draw the attention of those behind such an illegal order that the IMN is not an association or a society but a global concept that cannot be banned by fiat. We are, therefore, not distracted by this baseless move,” said spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, in a statement.
“Clearly, reason, logic, the law, constitution, conscience and propriety are all on the side of the Islamic Movement. Nothing can take away our rights as individuals or groups to worship and associate,” he said.
The Kaduna state government said in a statement issued last week by Samuel Aruwan, the governor’s spokesman, that its decision to declare the IMN an unlawful society is “in the exercise of the government’s duty to preserve peace and security in the state, and ensure that all persons and organisations are guided by lawful conduct, and with due allegiance to the Nigerian State and Constitution.”
The government accused the Shi’ites of having “a paramilitary wing and that its members do not recognise or respect the laws of the country, and duly constituted authorities that have the responsibility to secure and administer the nation.”
The group has however dismissed the government’s claim, pointing out its hypocrisy. The Nasir El-Rufai government set up a judicial commission of inquiry which indicted some soldiers including an army general for the massacre of members of the sect including women and children.
The government has said nothing about that recommendation, but has been swift to proscribe the IMN which was not one of the recommendations of the commission.
“Why didn’t it also talk of prosecuting the Army Generals that were fingered by the Commission as perpetrators of the genocide in Zaria?” the Shi’ites spokesman asked.
“We cannot be deceived by the hypocritical stance of Governor El-Rufai. The government is fretting, having failed to justify the continued detention of our leader, and having failed to show any rational basis for the whole attack, and are left with no option but resort to absurdity.”
The group clashed with soldiers in December 2015 in Zaria, leaving many of its members dead. The leader of the sect, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky has been in detention since December in a violation of the laws.