SaharaReporters has learned that the Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has issued a draconian order banning the peaceful Shiite religious group the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) today, according to a statement by his Special Assistant for Media and Publicity Samuel Aruwan.
This order is the latest in a series of repressive moves by the Kaduna State government and the Nigerian Army targeting the peaceful group. Tensions have been mounting between the Shiite group and Nigerian authorities following the December 2015 Zaria Massacre which saw the Nigerian army brutally massacre hundreds of Shiites and dump their bodies in a mass grave.
The massacre, which lasted three days in the city of Zaria in Kaduna State, targeted personal property and homes of many of its innocent members and led to the abduction of IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. Sheikh Zakzaky had most of his immediate family members murdered by the army onslaught; he was also shot and had one of his eyes popped out. IMN have repeatedly called for his release but the Nigerian authorities have refused.
Mr. El-Rufai’s order, issued today, states that “the Kaduna State Government has issued an Order declaring the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) an unlawful society. This action is taken in the exercise of the government’s duty to preserve peace and security in the state, and to ensure that all persons and organisations are guided by lawful conduct and with due allegiance to the Nigerian state and its Constitution.”
The statement continued by stating that the Shiite group is threatening the “harmonious coexistence and good governance of Kaduna State” through their peaceful processions and calls for justice.
Mr. El-Rufai’s draconian edict threatened “a penalty of imprisonment for seven years or a fine or both for any person convicted for belonging to an unlawful society.”
SaharaReporters contacted Ibrahim Musa, the spokesman for IMN, who said that the group was never consulted about this action prior to Mr. El-Rufai’s statement. He added that they will follow up soon with their formal response.
The full text of the Kaduna State government’s order can be read below:
Kaduna declares Islamic Movement in Nigeria an unlawful society
The Kaduna State Government has issued an Order declaring the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) an unlawful society. This action is taken in the exercise of the government’s duty to preserve peace and security in the state, and to ensure that all persons and organisations are guided by lawful conduct and with due allegiance to the Nigerian state and its Constitution. The Kaduna state executive council approved the making of this order following deliberations at its meeting of Thursday, 06 October 2016.
The Order, which has been signed by the Governor, draws on powers vested by the Constitution and the laws of Kaduna State. Section 45 (1) of the Constitution categorically vests in the Governor the powers to take such measures and actions as are necessary for the promotion and protection of:
public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
the rights and freedom of all persons in Kaduna State.
Section 97A of the Penal Code (Cap 110, Laws of Kaduna State, 1991) empowers the Governorto declare as an unlawful society any organisation whose activities are dangerous to the security and good governance of the state.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Clashes of 12-14 December 2015 found that the IMN is not a registered organisation, that it has a paramilitary wing and that its members do not recognise or respect the laws of the country and the duly constituted authorities that have the responsibility to secure and administer the country.
The Declaration Order noted that since the regrettable events in Zaria which resulted in the loss of 347 lives, the IMN “has overtly continued with unlawful processions, obstruction of public highways, unauthorized occupation of public facilities including schools without regard to the rights of other citizens and the public peace and order of the State”.
The Order noted that “these acts, if allowed to go unchecked will constitute danger to the peace, tranquility, harmonious coexistence and good governance of Kaduna State”.
The Declaration Order, which comes into effect on Friday, 7 October 2016, provides for the prosecution of persons that may be in breach of its provisions under the laws of Kaduna State:
“Whoever manages, or is a member of the said Society under any appellation or mutation with the propensity of causing the breakdown of law and order, or operates in a manner dangerous to the good governance of the State shall, from commencement of this order, be prosecuted in accordance with the Laws of Kaduna State.”
Sections 97A and 97B of the Penal Code prescribe a penalty of imprisonment for seven years or a fine or both for any person convicted for belonging to an unlawful society.
The Kaduna State Government reaffirms its vigorous commitment to upholding the right of citizens to practice the religion of their choice. These are rights fully protected by Sections 38 and 40 of the Constitution.
Such rights to freedom of thought and worship must however be exercised in ways that do not infringe on the rights of others, and should not subject other people to distress and inconvenience.
Special Assistant to the Governor (Media and Publicity)
7th October, 2016