A civil society group, Save Humanity Advocacy Centre, has hailed the proscription of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) as a terrorist organisation, describing it as a “relief to Nigerians".

The Federal Government, on Friday, July 26, 2019, obtained a court order to proscribe the Shiite organisation, following violent protests in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court Abuja issued the order in a ruling which designated the activities of the Shiite group in any part of Nigeria “as acts of terrorism and illegality.”

In a statement signed by its director or research, Helen Akanji, at the weekend, the human rights group urged the President Muhammadu Buhari to expedite the publication of the order.

The group appealed to the Buhari-led Federal Government to immediately initiate a programme to rehabilitate IMN members that voluntarily renounce the group’s campaign of terror and commit to peaceful coexistence with other Nigerians.

The ex parte order granted by Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday, proscribing the activities of IMN in any part of the country, is a relief to millions of Nigerians that are being terrorised by members of the terrorist group across the country,” the statement said.

While SHAC had always appealed to the Federal Government to follow in the steps of the Kaduna State government, which earlier outlawed the group on account of its being violent and militarised, the recent killing spree of police officers by IMN militants under the pretext of protesting the detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky, was a further reason to stop terrorism in its track.

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“It is our belief that those who were misled to join the group and its violent protests, who are not far gone in being radicalized, can now be jolted back to reality and renounce all affiliations with IMN while seeking rehabilitation and reintegration into the contemporary society.

“To this end, SHAC is appealing to the Federal Government to immediately initiate a programme for rehabilitating IMN members that voluntarily renounce the group’s campaign of terror and commit to peaceful coexistence with other Nigerians.

“Such programme should include transport assistance to help return such repentant members to their original homes as SHAC has found out that many of them have become stranded in different cities far away from their homes having been misled and trafficked to protest cities and are now being used as protestors, sometimes against their will.

“Security agencies should exploit the ruling of the Federal High Court to go after IMN leaders that are still on the loose as these are the ones coordinating the killing of security personnel and ordering arson attacks on public infrastructure in line with the terrorist group’s disavowal of the Nigerian state. These IMN leaders should not be allowed to have time to direct further attacks against Nigeria.

The law enforcement agencies should also ensure that the proscription of IMN is followed to the letter by ensuring that even those that give intellectual, propaganda and financial support to the terrorists are prosecuted on the strength of extant anti-terrorism legislation.”

The Shiites are demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-zakzaky, who was arrested after a clash between the group and the military in 2015.

But, in a reaction to the proscription move, the Shiite have insisted that they are a religious organisation and not a political movement.