Is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky trying to establish an Islamic State in Nigeria? The Federal Government of Nigeria thinks so.
Backstory: The Nigerian government (through the Solicitor General) made this allegation in a counter-affidavit against the IMN motion challenging its proscription as a terrorist group. The FG alleged that El-Zakzaky’s Islamic State had the backing of the Iranian government towards fulfilling the agenda. Counsel to the Sheikh El-Zakzaky and the IMN, Femi Falana (SAN) is seeking to upturn the religious group’s terrorist designation.
The presiding judge, Justice Evelyn Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja fixed September 11 for the hearing of the IMN’s motion.
A quick take: The Shiite group has strong affiliations to Iran, which is essentially an Islamic State. El-Zakzaky’s Islamic State allegation by the Federal Government is quite an overreach. But Iran’s intervention in the case has become a fodder for the FG’s baseless accusations. Recall that the Iranian government recently requested for the transfer of the IMN leader to their country.
Bottomline: This is only one of the many battles between El-Zakzaky’s IMN and the Nigerian government. While the government seeks to suppress the sect for reasons best known to it, it must watch against language and measures that have the potential to radicalize the group.