The federal government on Wednesday before the Federal High Court, Abuja, gave reasons why the proscription order banning the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) should not be vacated.
It also accused Iran of sponsoring planned Islamisation of the country, being allegedly propagated by the sect.
The IMN is currently challenging the July 26 order made by Justice Nkeonye Maha proscribing the group and its activities in Nigeria on the grounds that the order was made without jurisdiction and in violation of its members’ fundamental rights.
The group in the motion filed on August 2 by their lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), is also asking the court to set aside the 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 IMN, under any other name or platform howsoever called or described in any part of Nigeria.”
However, in a counter affidavit to the group’s application filed on August 27, 2019, the government urged the court to refuse IMN’s application because the movement also known as Shiite is being sponsored by a foreign country to forcibly turn Nigeria into an Islamic state.
The counter affidavit filed on behalf of the government by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, told the court that Iran is sponsoring the detained leader of the IMN, Shiek Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, to replicate a violent revolution that led to the coup in Iran in 1979.
The government in its opposition to the Shiite’s motion also told the court that members of the IMN do not recognise President Muhammadu Buhari as president and leader of Nigeria.
In a 56-paragraph counter-affidavit deposed to by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of Operation, FCT Command, Enyinnaya Adiogu, the federal government prayed the court to dismiss the IMN’s suit challenging the order that proscribed its activities in Nigeria.
The government submitted that from history and available facts, the IMN’s sole aim in Nigeria is the conversion of the country to an Islamic state.
The deponent further averred, “That the main aim of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is to propagate the ideology in Iran and turn the country (Nigeria) into an Islamic state as was done in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.
“That the violent acts of the members of the respondent/applicant right from its inception up to the 24th day of July, 2019, is chronicled in affidavit in support of the motion used in proscribing the respondent/applicant.
“That considering the violent acts of the members of the respondent/applicant, and their known agenda of achieving an Islamic state in Nigeria, the office of the National Security Adviser wrote to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requesting for his approval to proscribe the respondent/applicant.”
Adiogu said based on the advice, a presidential approval was obtained and same was conveyed by Exhibit 10 attached to the affidavit of the applicant/respondent in support of the motion ex-parte dated the 25th July 2019 and the court sighted same during the hearing of the ex-parte application.
“That after hearing the motion ex-parte filed by the honourable Attorney General of the Federation, this honourable court made an order declaring the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as a terrorist group.”
The government also alleged that El-Zakzaky was heavily influenced by the Iranian revolution, which saw Ayatollah Khomeini take power in 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah in a popular uprising.
“That members of IMN first pledge allegiance to Khomeini at their gatherings, and then to their local leader, Sheikh Zakzaky.
“The IMN views itself as a government, and Sheikh Zakzaky as the only legitimate source of authority in Nigeria and it does not recognise the authority of the Nigerian government and views its leaders both Muslims and Christians as corrupt and ungodly.
“That till date Sheikh El-Zakzaky enjoy the support of Iran in all the activities of Islamic Movement in Nigeria, including the agenda to make Nigeria an Islamic state.
“That as a result of El-Zakzaky Movement’s activities, many Muslim youth have converted to Shia-Islam of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria,” it said
In its further opposition to the application, the government submitted that contrary to claims of the respondent/applicant Justice Maha, “followed, relied and adopted the decision of Kafarati CJ. (as he then was) in the case of Attorney of the Federation v. Indigenous People of Biafra, Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/871/2017 decided that Section 2 (1) of the Section 2 (1) of the Terrorism (Prevention & Prohibition) Act, (as amended 2013) is not in breach of fair hearing.”
The Shiite in urging the court to vacate the proscription order argued amongst other things that”the said order of the honorable court breached the fundamental rights of all members of the IMN in Nigeria to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004.
“The order ex-parte was anchored on misrepresentation of material facts and based on suppression of material facts.
”The order ex parte constitutes a gross abuse of the process of this honorable court.”
Justice Maha had on July 26 as part of ruling banning the activities of the IMN ordered the federal government to publish the order in its official gazette, an order which the government complied with on July 29, 2019.
It was described in the gazette as ”Government Notice No. 79,” titled: ”Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice, 2019.”
Particularly, pages B597 to 602 of the document spelt out details of the enrolled order of the Federal High Court and the federal government’s warning against participating in any of the activities of IMN.
However, hearing in the application to set aside the proscription order could not go on yesterday following the request for adjournment by Falana to respond to the issues raised in the counter-affidavit.
Falana had told the court that since the counter-affidavit was only filed on Tuesday, he would be needing time to reply accordingly.
In a short ruling, Justice Maha granted the application for adjournment and fixed September 11 for hearing of the IMN’s motion praying the court for an order to reverse its proscription as a terrorist group.