Days after protests of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria led to the death of a police officer, a journalist and 11 others, the Federal Government has obtained a court order to proscribe the movement and declare them as a terrorist group.

The Federal High in Abuja order the proscription of the movement on Friday, July 26, 2019.

According to Punch, Justice Nkeonye Maha issued the order in a ruling in which she designated the activities of the Shiite organisation in any part of Nigeria “as acts of terrorism and illegality.”

The court also barred “any person or group of persons” from participating in any form of activities involving the Islamic Movement of Nigeria “under any name or platform” in the country.

The court also ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation “to publish the order proscribing the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in the official gazette and two national dailies.”

‪Members of Islamic movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites have protested,  demanding an unconditional release of their leader, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.
‪Members of Islamic movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites have protested,  demanding an unconditional release of their leader, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.

This order was given following an ex parte application by the Federal Government, a copy of which was sighted by Punch on Friday.

Punch reports that Justice Maha granted the four prayers contained in the application after the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata, argued the application.

The Shiite group was the sole respondent to the application, but since it was an ex parte hearing, the group was reportedly not represented by any lawyer.

Ruling on Friday, the court said that “the activities of the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in any part of Nigeria amounts to acts of terrorism and illegality.”

An order of this honourable court proscribing the existence and activities of the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in any part of Nigeria, under whatever form or guise either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called.

“An order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) under any other name or platform howsoever called or described in any part of Nigeria.

“An order directing the applicant (the AGF) to publish the order proscribing the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in the official gazette and two national dailies.”

For over two years, the Shiites group has been taking to the streets of Abuja to protest and demand the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Elzakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, Shiite leader has been in the custody of the Department of State Services since 2015. (Premium Times)
Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, Shiite leader has been in the custody of the Department of State Services since 2015. (Premium Times)

The couple were arrested in 2015 and has been in the custody of the Department of State Services following a bloody clash between members of the group and soldiers in the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in Zaria, Kaduna State.

In the application, the Federal Government accused the group of carrying out coordinated violent protests in the country and also called for its proscription.

You’ll recall that on Tuesday, July 23, 2019, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Federal Capital Territory Command, Usman Umar, and Channels TV reporter, Precious Owolabi, who was a corps member died during the group’s clash with the police in Abuja.

NYSC members carry the remains of their colleague, Mr. Precious Owolabi, who was killed on Monday during a violent confrontation between Police and the Shi’ites. His body left the the National Hospital, Abuja on Tuesday. [NAN image]
NYSC members carry the remains of their colleague, Mr. Precious Owolabi, who was killed on Monday during a violent confrontation between Police and the Shi’ites. His body left the the National Hospital, Abuja on Tuesday. [NAN image]

However, the spokesperson for the group, Ibrahim Musa, has responded to the proscription saying the Federal Government could not ban the group.

Ibrahim said that IMN member were Muslims practising Islam as “revealed” by Prophet Muhammed Punch reports.

He also said that IMN was neither an association nor a political party that could be proscribed by fiat, adding that the group was a mass movement and could not be made to abandon its religion just like that.