By Abdulmumin Giwa
Reference to my earlier write-up a few months ago titled “How do you ban IMN?” I was able to draw attention on a particular recommendation smuggled into the Judicial Commission of Inquiry’s submission on the Zaria massacre calling for the ban of IMN on the pretext that it is not a registered organization.
I explained further and I quote “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?”
Based on these facts I concluded that “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.”
Just a few months after this incident, the Kaduna state Governor Nasir El-Rufai declared that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) is an “unlawful society” which belonging to or associating with attracts seven years imprisonment or an option of fine or both.
He claimed that he did this based on the powers vested on him by the constitution as the state governor to protect the lives, rights and freedom of citizens of his state. He also claimed that he made consultations prior to that declaration.
He also claimed that it is based on the recommendations of the JCI that he acted which makes one wonders why he chose to act on only one recommendation that is equally controversial. There are other direct recommendations that have to do with the arrest and prosecution of the soldiers that perpetrated the mass murder of over 1000 men, women and children in the Zaria massacre that he neglected.
His claim that he widely consulted on the issue could not true and if he did he never consulted on what the IMN is or even understood the concept of the IMN. He might have consulted on how he could be able to ban the IMN and enforce the ban and he consulted his like-minds and ideological opponents of the IMN in order to achieve his dream.
If he had actually made the right consultations he would have reached the conclusion that the IMN is a global Islamic concept and not an organization, a society or a club. It is a concept that like-minds across the globe have and religiously congregate on. That is why it is called the Islamic Movement IN Nigeria and not the Islamic Movement OF Nigeria. It has no hierarchical structures like Chairman, Secretary Manager, Treasurer or anything of such. It is simply made up of a scholar and his followers all of whom see themselves as brothers in Islam irrespective of sect.
This is so because the Islamic Movement could be in France, Germany or London or anywhere. It could be in South Africa, Ghana, Niger or anywhere else in the world and would be so described as Islamic Movement in London, or in Germany or in France just as it is described as Islamic Movement in Nigeria. It is simply a concept and does not require any registration.
It is clear that the problem of El-Rufai and his like-minds is that they were the ones that defined for themselves what they want IMN to be so that they could achieve their dream of banning it. Thus they described it as an unregistered organization and finally a society and then the Governor arrogated to himself the power to ban it. But in reality there is nothing there to ban as the ban itself cannot stop the activities of the Movement which are religious.
All the activities of the IMN of Ashura, Nisf Sha’ban, Maulud, Arba’een symbolic trek and others that the Governor wants to stop are the Shiite religious activities. For the fact that El-Rufai inclines to Wahhabism does not mean that the Shiite practices must tally with his chosen Wahhabi ideology before they qualify as Islam. If he thinks along that line then he is fanatical about his ideas and has extremist tendencies.
Unless of course if they are looking for a way to ban people from following Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky now that they have failed in their attempts to kill him extra-judicially. In this case, they would then have to start by changing the Nigerian constitution before they can come up with a clause that will say nobody should associate or congregate with Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. They would have to do a lot of face lift on issues of right to freedom of association and worship and this is also not possible.
Definitely the outlawing of IMN does not in any way stop any of the activities of the IMN hence, the effort is in futility. How then can El-Rufai outlaw the Islamic movement on flimsy, unsubstantiated and sentimental reasons? This is crazy.
Anyway I think from the question I asked earlier on how the IMN would be banned, the recent declaration of IMN as unlawful society has answered me saying it does not require reasoning, logic or law, it simply requires the Governor to fabricate lies on the Movement and arrogate to himself the powers to ban it simple. This tells a lot about the country in which we are living. What a shame.

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