By Abdulmumin Giwa
The actual and initial plan of killing the revered leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) has so far not been accomplished by the contractors, nor has the effort of dispersing the members succeeded even with the mass murder of 12th to 14th of December 2015.
The next step of the entire project is that of banning and outlawing the IMN, a step which has been smuggled into the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) set up by the Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai, a major stakeholder in the massacre.
The JCI is claiming that the IMN is not a registered organization and should therefore be banned and in trying to add a human face to their mischief they advised that those who want to practice Shi’ism can join the RAAF organization which is the type of Shiite practice the government is willing to recognize.
The question still remains, are these steps enough to ban the IMN? Firstly, the IMN is a congregation of religious practitioners with like minds joined together in the service and worship of their God. Is it part of the constitution to determine how they worship?
Must one be registered to pray, fast, give alms or perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca? Or is it only by government registration that one is allowed to love and revere the Prophet of Islam and his holy Household? Or must one be registered to curse the murderers of Imam Husain AS and other Imams AS?
Is it the constitutional right of the Nigerian government to determine how religious groups congregate and practice their faith? Must one be registered by the government to uphold the tenets and symbols of a faith system like the practice of Ashura, dressing in black attires and the Arba’een symbolic trek?
Is it a contravention of the Nigerian constitution for one to oppose the Israeli illegal occupation of Palestine or even express such? What does the Nigerian government loose when Nigerians support the oppressed Palestinians that it even uses the Army to clampdown on them? Is not the Nigerian government supporting the atrocities of the Israelis over the Palestinians by its actions?
Hence, any attempt by the Nigerian government under any guise to interfere with the religious tenets of the citizens would tantamount to outright impunity, tyranny and suppression and disregard to constitutional provisions.
This is where the issue of freedom of religion arises and you don’t need to be registered to belong to or practice any religion whatsoever in Nigeria.
To even prove that the IMN is a collection of responsible and morally upright individuals, all organs under the Movement that require registration to operate, like the various Fudiyya Schools, Shuhada Foundation, Islamic Movement Medical Association, Al-Mizan and a host of others are all duly registered with their respective legislative bodies.
The IMN is not an organization with organizational structures like Chairman, Secretary, treasurer and the rest. It is only a congregation of religious like-minds with a spiritual leader and followers simple. But where it has other organs that are registered, such offices exist and they have even board members as well as required by the regulatory authorities.
In addition, such registered bodies actively and widely participate in activities of interest with other practitioners of such fields of endeavors. For example the Al-Mizan is a Chapel under the Nigerian Union of Journalists NUJ and the Islamic Movement Medical Association (ISMA) in its activities had organized donations of thousands of pints of blood from members of the IMN by the National Blood Transfusion Commission.
In another mischievous move, they have further blackmailed the IMN claiming that it mounts road blocks and it also blocks road during its events.
Before challenging these deliberately fabricated insinuations, there is need to ask whether the punishment for blocking of roads according to the Nigerian constitution is the mass murder of those who block the roads. If at all such a law exists then it is not meant for civilized justice system, it is a jungle justice. Moreover no such law exists and as a result the blocking of roads is a generally accepted tradition in Nigeria in particular and every part of the world depending on the purpose for it.
In Nigeria roads are blocked by virtually all strata of the society and for cultural, social, traditional, religious and most importantly political reasons. Nigerians engaging in activities associated with the mentioned reasons block roads and it is a generally accepted phenomenon everywhere.
So, to claim that the Nigerian army can spend more 48 hours killing young men, women children and the aged, burning some of them alive for a flimsy excuse that they blocked road is the most stupid reason for murder ever established in this century. In fact it is a shame for any civilized and right thinking person to assume that the punishment for blocking of road is massive killing of those who blocked the road.
The Church to which the Nigerian Vice President is a Pastor, the Redeemed Christian Church of God situated along the busiest express way in West Africa, the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way always holds motorists in a hold up in such a way that one would travel from Kaduna to Sokoto, which is about 500 kilometers before the person traveling to Ibadan from Lagos gets there which is only 130 kilometers.
Any time this church is having a general event the travelling to Ibadan from Lagos becomes a tedious task but the Nigerian Army has not been ordered to go there to kill them for blocking the road which would have been the most stupid thing ever. And in the case of this church even the Chief of Army Staff had been stranded along the way closely after the Zaria incident although his spokesman denied it.
It is not only this church, there are hundreds of other churches as well that block roads and no finger has been pointed against them.
It is not only churches that are into this road blocking even mosques unnecessarily block road especially during Friday prayers but no such mosques have ever been attacked by the Nigerian Army.
Also the Emirs in the north block roads during their Sallah Durbars along with their traditional groups riding on thousands of horses thereby bringing traffic to standstill and they have never been ordered to be killed by the Nigerian Army.
More so, there are social events and entertainments during which roads are blocked especially carnivals that hold in various parts of the country and no one has ever been reported to have been killed as a result. Roads are also blocked by sports fans during wild celebrations after a win and others.
Most importantly, not even the Nigerian President has won elections without subjecting road user to discomfort because it is already a political trend to stage marches during their campaigns. No such politicians have ever been ordered to be killed for blocking the roads. Theirs is even worse because when they are on the roads they molest anybody that is not their supporter especially the APC during the last elections who even demolish symbols of other political parties and harass the supporter which is worse than just blocking of the road. Despite that they were not ordered to be killed by the Army.
Even the Nigerian Army blocks roads during their periodic road walks and divert traffic which makes me wonder who will be sent to kill them. If blocking of roads is unlawful they should have been leading the good example and not to turn the country into an animal farm where some animals are more equal than the others.
To divert a little, it brings me to the issue of obeying law and order where in Nigeria any one wearing military or paramilitary uniform feels on top of the world and above the law, a mad and uncivilized mentality. They rarely guide or lead by examples as though thee laws are not meant for them as well. They could molest anyone at will and harass him even on his right. They take the laws in to their hands and embarrass anyone at will, the soldiers acting like police and police acting like Army with each trying to be more god than the other.
So, the plot to outlaw the IMN will most definitely fail because faith is written in the hearts of the members. Nobody was forced or made to be part of IMN under duress or intimidation. Every member of the IMN is a member because his heart and soul have been addressed and is convinced. He is not a member because he inherited the movement from his parents but because he is convinced that it is the way of God Almighty. Therefore, it is virtually impossible to ban the religious understanding simply because it differs from your own understanding and you have a gun in your possession.
If you declare the IMN banned how would you address the minds of those in which it is established? Would you cut their hearts open to remove the faith? It is clear that the only thing your shallow-minds understand is killing, how many people more are you prepared to kill to ban the IMN? More so, how do you hope to force a faith out of existence by simply killing anybody that holds to it? This will definitely be an effort in vein. How then do you ban the IMN?
By Abdulmumin Giwa