By John Shiklam
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiite on Monday distanced itself from reports that it planned to kidnap military officers to demand the release of its leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
Zakzaky had been in detention since his arrest following a clash between the Nigerian Army and his followers in Zaria on December 12, 2015.
The Presidency was reported to have insinuated that the Shiite may have been behind the abduction of a military officer, Colonel Samaila Inusa who was kidnapped in Kaduna on Saturday.
The IMN in a statement by its spokesman, Ibrahim Musa, described the reports as mischievous and calculated to give the movement a bad name.
According to him, “Our attention has been drawn to a false, unsubstantiated and mischievous claim, that looks more like a planned operation aimed at painting the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) black, of some ‘intelligence’ report that the IMN may plan kidnap of military officers for ransom for the release of our revered leader, His Eminence Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky.
“Typically, this was followed by the alleged kidnap of an Army officer in Kaduna with the Nigerian Army issuing statement calling on the public to give information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.
“Soon, some media outlets were quick to quote these malicious sources linking the IMN with the alleged kidnap”.
He maintained that it was “obvious that the government and its Army were going further with their plans of campaign of calumny and false propaganda against the Movement ranging from smear documentaries on Television networks, advertorials in daily newspapers, sponsoring fake non-governmental organizations and engagement of some very dubious characters to malign the IMN and its leadership, to engaging in organized crimes and attributing same to the Movement.”
The statement declared that the IMN under the leadership of Sheikh Zakzaky has never and will never engage in any form of crime to meet any of its objectives.
“Crime and criminal activities are fundamentally sinful and are not in our character.The Islamic Movement knows that due to official administrative ineptitude and official negligence of constituted authority, a lot of crimes including kidnapping are prevalent in the country.
“As a religious body, the IMN condemns and preaches against all forms of crime. Therefore, it is virtually illogical and unreasonable for anyone to presume that the IMN would turn around to engage in such acts of immorality” the statement said.
The statement further maintained that the IMN is a peaceful mass movement, with enlightened and responsible members, adding that for close to four decades now, it has conducted its activities in the most civilised manner and cannot in any way be derailed from that golden track record.
“IMN will therefore never be lured or diverted into any form of crime or violence. We are forced to believe that the government and its Army are resorting to these vicious campaigns in desperation.
“They wish not only to bury their crimes against humanity, but also to justify the bestiality they meted on the innocent unarmed members of the movement between 12th and 14th of December 2015, including burning IMN members alive, sexual mutilation and harassment of women, as well as abduction and illegal detention of members including the leader of the movement, besides killing over 1000 unarmed citizens” the statement alleged.