By Mohammad Ibrahim:The Kaduna State Government has issued an order declaring the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which operates in northwest Nigeria, as an outlawed society. According to state authorities, the government is legitimately exercising its duty to preserve peace and security of the state, and ensuring that all persons and organizations are guided by lawful conduct and with due allegiance to the Nigerian state and its constitution.
In a statement made available to newsmen via e-mail, state government spokesman Samuel Aruban said the state executive council approved the making of this order following deliberations at its meeting on October 6. The order, which has been signed by the state’s governor, draws on powers vested by Nigeria’s constitution and the laws of Kaduna State.
Section 45 (1) of the constitution categorically vests in the Governor the powers to take such measures and actions as are necessary for the promotion and protection of public safety, public order, public morality, public health, and the rights and freedom of all persons in Kaduna State. Section 97-A of the Penal Code (Cap 110, Laws of Kaduna State, 1991) empowers the Governor to outlaw any organization whose activities are dangerous to the security and good governance of the state.
On December 12-14, 2015, a clash occurred between Shiites and the Nigerian military in which hundreds of Shiites were killed and their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, was arrested along with his wife and many other members of the group.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Clashes of December 12-14, 2015, set up by the authorities in Kaduna found that the IMN is not a registered organization, that it has a paramilitary wing, and that its members do not recognize or respect the laws of the country and the duly constituted authorities that have the responsibility to secure and administer the country. The Declaration Order noted that since the events in Zaria, which resulted in the loss of 347 lives, the IMN “has overtly continued with unlawful processions, obstruction of public highways, unauthorized occupation of public facilities including schools without regard to the rights of other citizens and the public peace and order of the State”. The order also stated that “these acts, if allowed to go unchecked, will constitute a danger to the peace, tranquility, harmonious coexistence, and good governance of Kaduna State”.
The Declaration Order, which comes into effect on Friday, 7 October, provides for the prosecution of persons that may be in breach of its provisions under the laws of Kaduna State: Whoever manages or is a member of a society under any appellation or mutation with the propensity to cause the breakdown of law and order, or operates in a manner dangerous to the good governance of the State shall, after the order is put into effect, be prosecuted in accordance with the laws of Kaduna State.” Sections 97-A and 97-B of the Penal Code prescribe a penalty of imprisonment for seven years or a fine or both for any person convicted of belonging to an unlawful society. The Kaduna State Government has reaffirmed its vigorous commitment to upholding the right of citizens to practice the religion of their choice. These are rights fully protected by Sections 38 and 40 of the Constitution. Such rights to freedom of thought and worship must, however, be exercised in ways that do not infringe on the rights of others, and should not subject other people to distress and inconvenience.