Shi’ites criminality outlawed, not freedom of worship, Presidency clarifies

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Presidency has clarified that it was the criminality being perpetrated by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise called  Shi’ites, that was proscribed and not the religion being practised by the larger numbers of peaceful and law abiding Shiites in the country.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the proscription is to discourage wanton violence, murder and willful destruction of public and private property.

On Friday, the government secured an ex-parte court order to proscribe the group. The court order was issued by the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The order will be gazetted to day.

Presidency explained that contrary to claim by IMN that it had been banned from practising its religion, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration “has not banned Shiites from observing their five daily prayers and going to Mecca to perform the Holy pilgrimage. Their position is blatantly false and deceptive.

“The IMN is deliberately changing the narrative in order to gain sympathy and divert the attention of the world from its terrorist activities, including attacking soldiers, killing policemen and a youth corps member, destroying government ambulances and public property, consistently defying authority of the state.”

The Presidency said the banned organisation was taken over by extremists who did not believe in peaceful protests and instead employed violence and arson,  driving fear and undermining the rights of others and constituted authority.

It said it agreed that the constitution protects freedom of worship, “but not to the detriment of the society, especially where such freedom harms others, and breaks law and order.”

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However,  the IMN has described the proscription order as a “huge joke.”

IMN’s spokesman, in a statement said: “The Islamic Movement has learnt of the fallacious court order for its proscription by a high court in Abuja that it is a terrorist group.

“We are in consultations with our lawyers, and we would, as a peaceful people who have been victims of Buhari government-sponsored terror attacks throughout his first term and continuing, give an appropriate response.

“We want to assure the general public and the international community that we will not be pushed into taking any rash decision no matter the provocation.

“This order, we believe, was hastily obtained to sweep under the carpet the glaring human rights abuses suffered by the Islamic Movement at the hands of Buhari’s administration since the Zaria genocide of December, 2015.

“We reject any false flag terror attacks that the authorities would be plotting in our name, and by this assure the general public that we have never contemplated the use of terror tactics in our ways. This is not about to change.”

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