Chibok Girls And IMN

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Today, we are greeted with news of 21 girls who have been released by Boko Haram and it is great news to our ears and as we are sure to the ears of the parents of the girls.

We commend all stakeholders who have participated in the negotiations and we hope that successes like this can keep being recorded.

The recent bomb blast in Maiduguri by Boko Haram has also left us sorrowful and wondering.

The Security Situation which has to a large extent being relatively handled is now starting to be a cause for concern again. Questions that remain to be answered are many including the motive for releasing kidnapped girls after an attack was carried out a day before and whether truly the girls were exchanged for four of the top commanders of the sect.

Our prayers are with the family of the deceased those injured and with soldiers at the war front.

We call for an intensified effort which could involve bringing in private security firms for intelligence and a vigilance over the security situation in the North East.

In Furtherance, news filtered through Last Friday that Kaduna State has banned the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) describing the group as an “unlawful society”.

The government said “the action was taken to preserve peace and security in the state and to ensure that all persons and organisation are guided by lawful conduct and with due allegiance to Nigeria States and its constitution” among other reasons.

The State Government relied on section 45 (1) of the 1999 constitution which it said gave it the powers to take such necessary measures and actions for the promotion and protection of public safety, public order and public morality.

Less than a week after, the Kano State Government on Tuesday 11th October, 2016 also banned the activities of the (IMN). The police in Kano State while announcing the ban in a statement warned the people of the state especially those who organise and conduct processions in the name of religious rites to desist from doing so or face the wrath of the law.

This is coming at a time when the States of Katsina and Kebbi and more recently Jigawa state had also declared the activities of the (IMN) as illegal.

Having studied the situation and the unease it has caused in the polity, we are of the view that while the intention of the state governments for proscribing the Shiite movement maybe in the best interest of their subjects, we dare say that the manner or approach they went about it, is rather confrontational and may achieve the opposite.

While the security and continuous peaceful coexistence of citizens remain the paramount objective of the state government, it is also incumbent on the government not to infringe or foreclose the constitutional rights of Freedom of association, Movement and Worship of a people on account of their meager population as that will amount to crass injustice which could have dire consequences for the nation.

It is on record that several religious organisations in the country despite not being registered, have carried on their activities and many times constituting public nuisance in the cause of same.

Singling out the (IMN) for their non registration and using it as a fodder to ban the group is rather preposterous and counterintuitive. Neither is the claims of their not paying allegiance to the national flag and issue for the state governments to make an issue out of―as matters of allegiance are within the legislative competence of the Federal Government.

The least these state governments could have done therefore was to interface with the Federal Government in working out modalities more civil to handle the issue given the national crisis a confrontational approach as have been taken by these state governments can precipitate. There is no threat greater than foreclosing a man from worshipping what he believes in as he does not infringe on the right of another man in the process. This is because nothing leads a man to destroy or kill his fellow man than religious sentiments.

The Ashura procession is a global invent marked every year by all members of the Shiite Islamic Sect and hence, nothing can stop its followers in Nigeria from joining other people in other parts of the world to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (the 3rd Imam of the Sect) and 72 others 1400 years ago.
Let us sternly warn that the continuous detention of the leader of the Sect Sheik Zakzakky for whatever reasons being put out in the media, the extra judicial manner over which their members were killed last year by the Nigerian Army including 6 sons of the group’s leader, the recent killings of more of their members and the latest reckless act of banning the Sect maybe seen as a declaration of war on the group.

Let us be reminded that nothing can stop a people who have being pushed to the wall from bouncing back using what manner of force they elect.

Against the backdrop of the foregoing, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to release the IMN Leader, summon a meeting of all the Northern state governors and representatives of all faith groups to deliberate and come up with a solution to the problem the (IMN) poses that will benefit both sides and not the present confrontational or knee-jerk approach which at best is a tinderbox that could lead to a conflagration to the best of our knowledge.

The (IMN) it must be noted is not a terrorist organisation at least not that we have heard of.

We already have enough problems as a nation to grapple with on our hands; let us not add to it.

In the meantime we call on the several state governments to lift the bans and to allow a polity already overcharged to enjoy some calm. A stitch in time saves nine.

May God Bless Federal Republic of Nigeria

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