Shiites say protests will continue despite dangling proscription

A spokesman of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, whose members are known as Shiites, has reacted to the labelling of the movement as a ‘terrorist group’ by a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The spokesman who was not identified by Reuters, said although the group has not received any formal notice from the court, protests calling for the release of the leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky would continue.

He said plans to ban the movement had been considered since 2015 and it was not surprised by the move.

A Nigerian court on Friday granted the government permission to label the group a terrorist organisation and also ban it.

Justice Nkeonye Maha issued the order in a ruling on an exparte motion brought by the “Attorney-General of the Federation” before the court on Thursday.

Ibrahim El-Zakzaky: leader of the Shiites

The matter was argued on behalf of the government by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata.

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However, the group had no representatives in court on Friday.

Justice Maha restrained “any person or group of persons” from participating in any form of activities involving or concerning the IMN “under any name or platform” in Nigeria, according to the Punch newspaper.

State v El-Zakzaky

To complete the process of the proscription of the group, the court ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation “to publish the order proscribing the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in the official gazette and two national dailies”.

In its ruling the court said, “An order of this honourable court proscribing the existence and activities of the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in any part of Nigeria, under whatever form or guise either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called.

“An order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) under any other name or platform howsoever called or described in any part of Nigeria.

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“An order directing the applicant (the AGF) to publish the order proscribing the respondent (Islamic Movement in Nigeria) in the official gazette and two national dailies.Shi’ite Muslim group a terrorist organisation, the solicitor general told Reuters on Saturday.

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) have been protesting in Abuja calling for the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015 despite a court order to release him.

The protests have often turned violent. An IMN spokesman said at least 20 of the group’s members were killed this week during demonstrations.

A youth corps member and a deputy commissioner of police also died in the violent protest on Monday.

In Kaduna, the free El-Zakzaky efforts will continue in the court on Monday.

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The court will decide on Zakzaky’s bail application and request to be allowed to go to India for medical.

The Shi’ite group can appeal the order.

On Friday, the Kaduna state government provided an infographics on the state of the legal battle with El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat. Titled ‘Facts on the state v El-ZakZaky’, the Infographics traced the legal war from 19 April 2018, when charges were filed against the Shiite leader and his wife.

The couple was arraigned on 2 August 2018 and bail was refused on 4 October 2018.

On Monday, 29 July, the court El-Zakzaky and wife’s application for medical leave.