By Damola Emmanuel
Few days after the federal government obtained an ex-parte order to proscribe the El-Zakyzaky-led Shiite group of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, on Tuesday, announced that the group would henceforth be treated as a terrorist organisation.
He also said his organisation would clamp down on any protest by the organisation.
Mr. Adamu made the declaration a day after the Federal Government gazetted the proscription order. The order was published in the government gazette on Monday.
The Federal High Court in Abuja issued the proscription order on Friday, July 26, 2019, and ordered the Federal Government to publish the order in its gazette and in two national dailies.
Making the proscription order, Justice Nkeonye Maha designated the activities of the sect in any part of Nigeria “as acts of terrorism and illegality.”
The ex-parte order came three days after a protest by the IMN group in Abuja turned violent and resulted in a gun battle with the police.
The gun battle claimed the lives of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations at the Federal Capital Territory Command, Mr. Usman Umar, and Precious Owolabi, a 21-year-old vibrant reporter and youth corps member serving with Channels TV.
Sixty-three members of the proscribed group, including seven women, were arrested over the violence.
Armed with the order, the IGP told senior police officers, at their monthly meeting at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, that the IMN, popularly known as Shiites, will henceforth be treated as terrorists.
Asserting that the group’s activities were calculated at plunging Nigeria into ethno-religious war, Adamu said the police and other security agencies would arrest and prosecute anybody that postures as member of the proscribed organisation.
“The activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria led by Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky has over time evolved to constitute a grave threat to national security, law and order, socio-religious harmony, peace, good governance and the sovereign integrity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,”Adamu declared.
“The members of the IMN have engaged in extreme radicalism, series of terror-related activities, violence and other unlawful activities which are inimical to the national security interest, good governance, and the corporate existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is obvious from the foregoing that the activities of IMN constitute glaring defiance and/or rebellion against the Nigerian State, calculated efforts to plunge the nation into an ethno-religious war, intimidation of citizens and security agents, disrespect for Nigerian laws and the authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Their activities also clearly and consistently negate Section 1(2)(A)&(B) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 and Section 2(1)(A)(B)(C) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013 and hence, justify their proscription in overriding national security interest.”
The Inspector General was not done. He continued: “In relation to the IMN, 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.
“In consequence, henceforth, 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.”
On the actions that will be taken by the police and other security agencies, Adamu said: “We have arrested 63 people including seven women. If the members decide to come out again, we will get them arrested and we shall prosecute them under the Terrorism Act of 2013 as amended.
“The Police and other security agencies are fully committed to giving full effect to this judicial pronouncement in the interest of our internal security and national cohesion.”
The IGP canvassed for the support of members of the public in providing credible information that would help law enforcement to identify the locations of “IMN members and their mentors”, as well as working with the police to apprehend and bring them to justice.
Adamu, however, clarified that Nigeria is a secular state with constitutional guarantees for the freedom to practise their faiths. But he quickly add that such freedom must be exercised with a high sense of responsibility and in such ways that will not infringe the freedom of law abiding citizens or the nation’s security.
Adamu’s words: “While all adherents of the Shiite Sect in Nigeria remain free to continue to practice their faith and shall be guaranteed adequate security to so do as the Judicial Order does not stop them, the El-Zakzaky-led Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria, which does not recognise nor accept the Constitution and Government of the Federation, is the sole organisation that has been classified as a terrorist organisation and proscribed.”
EXCERPTS FROM THE GAZETTE:
The gazette, from pages B597 to 602, contained details of the enrolled order of the Federal High Court and the Federal Government’s warning against participating in IMN’s activities.
It reads in part: “Notice is hereby given that by the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/Cs/876/2019 dated July 26, 2019 as per the schedule to this notice, the activities of Islamic Movement in Nigeria are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, as proscribed, pursuant to Sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended).
“Consequently, the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the said group will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended) and liable to prosecution.
“(This notice shall be cited as the Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice 2019.”