Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has announced a ban on demonstrations by Shiite group Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in the country.
The IGP said any member of the group that violates the order would be treated as a terrorist and an enemy of the state.
Adamu, at a meeting with Commissioners of Police and other senior officers, noted that the IMN, 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.
The IG said the group has engaged in extreme radicalism, with a 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 country.
Among other violations committed by the proscribed group, Adamu listed: “Pledging allegiance to foreign countries; unauthorized blocking of public highways; engagement in illegal road blocks; imposition of illegal curfews and checkpoints; raids on security assets; prevention of arrest of their members; and invasion of court premises to abort legal proceedings involving IMN members.
“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 Inspector General declared.
Adamu’s extensive statement reads:
“The import of this is that all forms of procession or protest by IMN is now illegal and thus banned.
“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. 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. Some of these nefarious activities include the following: Pledging allegiance to foreign countries from where they are enjoying political, financial and training support with the aim of advancing their destabilizing intents within Nigeria.
“Unauthorized blocking of public highways, engagement in illegal road blocks, 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.
“Other atrocities of the group include: “Setting up of a para-military guard known as ‘HURRAS’ through which IMN has been terrorizing 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 a State authority;
“Provocative preaching and hate speeches aimed at inciting members against non-members while working towards its agenda of creating an Islamic State in Nigeria and challenging the legitimacy of the Federal Government in favour of Islamic government, non-recognition of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, non-recognition of State Authority, non-recognition of our democratic values and disrespect for our judicial processes.
“The IMN has over the years manifested its penchant for launching attacks on Nigerians and the symbols of State authority. Since 2018 till date, the IMN has engaged in coordinated and organized violent protests within the Federal Capital Territory.
“Two weeks ago, the IMN extended its violent protest on 9th July 2019 to the National Assembly in the course of which they violently attacked and fatally injured security operatives in an attempt to overrun the National Assembly and threaten the nation’s democratic order. The protesters overwhelmed the first gate of the complex, inflicting damage on the security post, and marched on to the second one just before the main complex while the lawmakers were in session. The protesters also damaged a police vehicle and several other vehicles belonging to visitors, lawmakers and staff of the National Assembly who also sustained varying degrees of injuries.
“On 22nd July 2019, the IMN members again launched another vicious cycle of violent protest around the Federal secretariat during which they set a sub-station of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) containing a truck and ambulance on fire. A Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, in charge of Operations at the FCT Police Command and Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corp member in the FCT were killed and several others injured with many properties destroyed by them. The violent activities of IMN under the guise of clamouring for the release of their leader who is being detained on the order of a Court of competent jurisdiction in Kaduna State, has not only confirmed their disdain for due legal processes, but has heightened tension and insecurity in the country in a manner that confirms that their motivation is to destabilise the country;
“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.
“Although this meeting will review this and other general security situation and emplace appropriate action plans that are targeted at addressing these threats, 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”.
“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. In this regard, I wish to solicit the support of members of the public, specifically, in the provision of information that will aid in the identification of the locations of the IMN members and their mentors as well as in working with us in apprehending and bringing them to justice. For purpose of clarification, Nigeria is a secular State with constitution provisions guaranteeing the freedom to practice our faiths. This, however, must be exercised in a manner that will not threaten our national security.
“Hence, it is to be emphasised that 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.”
Regarding the general security of the country, the IGP reported that a total of 4,187, high profile suspects have been arrested nationwide. These include 1,629, armed robbery suspects, 1,053 suspected kidnappers; 1,023 cultists, and 482 murder suspects.
According to him: “In addition 1,181 firearms of various descriptions and calibre, including improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and rocket launchers, were recovered in various police operations across the country within the same period. 389 stolen vehicles were also recovered from criminal elements, while five 506 kidnapped victims have been safely rescued. It is pertinent to mention that of the rescued victims, 300 were secured in Zamfara State alone with 249 of this number rescued between 9th to 23rd July, 2019 from bandits and militias operating in the forests in and around Zamfara State.”