By AbdulRaheem Aodu
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state has said the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise known as Shi’ites, is another Boko Haram in waiting.
This, he said, is because it “is unregistered and does not recognise any Nigerian authority,” noting that the organisation’s loyalty “lies elsewhere, making it a threat and security risk to Nigeria.”
Nigeria, especially the North-eastern part of the country, has been under the threat of the insurgents, leading to enormous loss of lives and property.
But warning on the possibility of another insurgent in Shi’ites, El-Rufa’i, who spoke with journalists yesterday in Kaduna, described the IMN activities as an insurgency waiting to happen.
He added that the IMN leader, Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky, was not practising the
doctrine of Shi’ism, but rather gathering enough members in order to stage an Iranian-type of Islamic revolution in Nigeria.
The governor clarified that he neither banned the Shi’ites nor Shi’ism in Kaduna state, but merely invoked the powers conferred on him by the Penal Code which was enacted in 1963, to declare IMN an unlawful society.
According to him, “the government only declared IMN illegal, but there are two other Shi’ite sects that are carrying on with their activities freely in Kaduna state.”
“It is wrong to equate only IMN with Shi’ism. IMN is just one group that professes the doctrine but there are several others. IMN is only one sect out of many Shi’ite organisations.
“There is one Shi’ite group that is headquartered here in Kaduna that is headed by Sheikh Hamza Lawal. He used to be with IMN but he left them when he realised that IMN is more interested in political struggles than religious development,” he said.
El-Rufa’i said Sheikh Lawal appeared before the Justice Lawal Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry and gave evidence that “there is nothing in Shia doctrine that says that you should not recognise the government of your country.”
He pointed out that the government “cannot ban any religious organisation or practice in the state, but that the Penal Code gives” him the powers to declare any organisation as an unlawful society, “If it poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state.”
“We concluded, after receiving the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that looked into the clashes between IMN and the army, that IMN poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state. We did not ban Shi’ism, we did not ban Shi’ites, we did not say that they can’t practice their religion.”
Adducing further reasons he declared IMN an unlawful society, El-Rufa’i said “the group does not recognise the constitution of Nigeria.
“They do not recognise Buhari as president. They do not recognise me as governor of Kaduna state; they had their own governor in Tudun Wada.
“IMN have their own paramilitary personnel which they call Hurras and they used to bear arms in violation of the Nigerian laws. They do not accept that any law in Nigeria applies to them.
“Because they do not recognise any law in Nigeria, IMN is not registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission. So, they cannot be sued or held responsible for their actions. They build anywhere they find land; they do not even bother to apply for land titles. The governor also said that IMN used to block public highways and occupy schools during their processions.
“In the practice of their religion, they infringed on the rights of others and that is completely wrong in Islam. IMN was an insurgency that was waiting to happen. IMN was a political organisation.
“The intention of el-Zakzaky was to gather enough followers to effect an Iranian-type revolution in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a 100% Muslim country that you can do that kind of revolution.”
Despite the fact that IMN had been declared an unlawful organisation, El- Rufa’I, however, said it was wrong for citizens to take the law into their hands by attacking them, adding that those who attacked some IMN members during the last Ashura celebrations had been apprehended and were being prosecuted in court.