By John Femi Adi:
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El Rufai said the State government decided to declare the Islamic Movement in Nigeria(IMN) an unlawful society, because its activities posed an insurgency that was waiting to happen.
According to the Governor El-Rufai ,who spoke to a select-group of journalists at Sir Kashim Ibrahim Governor’s lodge said that IMN leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El Zakzaky was not practicing the doctrine of Shiism, but was gathering enough members in order to stage an Iranian-type Islamic revolution in Nigeria.
While explaining that he neither banned the Shiite sect, nor Shiism in Kaduna state ,but merely invoked the powers conferred on him by the penal code ,which was enacted in 1963, to declare IMN an unlawful society.
He further explained that the government only declared IMN illegal, but there are two other Shiite sects that are carrying on with their activities freely in Kaduna state.
He however, argued that it is wrong to equate only IMN with Shiism, adding that IMN is just one group that professes the doctrine but there are several others.
‘’There is also a misconception that IMN is the same thing as Shiites; it is only one sect out of many Shiite organizations. There is one Shiite group that is headquartered here in Kaduna, that is headed by Sheikh Hamza Lawal. He used to be with IMN but he left them when he realized that IMN is more interested in political struggles than religious development, ‘’ he said.
El Rufai said that Sheikh Hamza appeared before the Justice Lawal Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry and gave evidence by saying that ‘’there is nothing in Shia doctrine that says that you should not recognize the government of your country.’’
El Rufai pointed out that the government can not ban any religious organization or practice in the state but that the penal code gives him the powers to declare any organization as an unlawful society ‘’if it poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state.’’
‘’We concluded, after receiving the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that looked into the clashes between IMN and the army, that IMN poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state,’’ he said, adding that ‘’we did not ban Shiism, we did not ban Shiites, we did not say that they can’t practice their religion.’’
Adducing more reasons why he declared IMN an unlawful society, El Rufai said that the group ‘’does not recognize the constitution of Nigeria. They do not recognize Buhari as president. They do not recognize me as governor of Kaduna state, they had their own governor in Tudun Wada.’’
According to the governor, IMN have their own paramilitary personnel which they call ‘’Hurras’’ and they used to bear arms in violation of the Nigerian laws. ‘’And they do not accept that any law in Nigeria applies to them.,’’ he further said.
The governor pointed out that ‘’because they do not recognize any law in Nigeria, IMN is not registered with Corporate Affairs Commission. So, they cannot be sued or held responsible for their actions. They build anywhere they find land, they do not even bother to apply for land titles.’’
El Rufai also said that IMN used to block public high ways and occupy schools during their processions. ‘’In the practice of their religion, they infringed on the rights of others and that is completely wrong in Islam.’’
‘’So, if you put all these together, you will realize that IMN was an insurgency that was waiting to happen. IMN was a political organization. The intention of El Zakzaky was to gather enough followers to effect an Iranian-type revolution in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a 100% Muslim country that you can do that kind of revolution,’’ El Rufai said.
In spite of the fact that IMN has been declared an unlawful organization, El Rufai however said that it is wrong for citizens to take the law into their hands by attacking them. He said that those who attacked some IMN members during the last Ashura celebrations have been apprehended and being prosecuted in court.