By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State government has issued an order declaring the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) otherwise known as Shiite as an unlawful organisation.
The government in a statement in Kaduna said the action was taken to preserve peace and stability in the state.
Members of the Islamic group had been staging protests in Kaduna, Abuja, Kano, Katsina and Jos to demand for the unconditional release of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, his wife and other members of the IMN who had been in detention following their arrest during the clash between the Movement and the Nigerian Army in Zaria in December 2015.
Many people were killed and property destroyed during the clash.
A judicial commission of inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government to investigate the clashes had in its report, blamed Zakzaky for the clash and recommended that he should be investigated and prosecuted .
The government statement signed by Samuel Aruwan, spokesman to Governor Nasir El-Rufai declared that the “the IMN is an unlawful society”.
The statement explained that the action was taken in the exercise of the government’s duty to preserve peace and security in the state and to ensure that all persons and organisations were guided by lawful conduct and with due allegiance to the Nigerian state and its Constitution.
According to the statement, “The Kaduna state executive council approved the making of this order following deliberations at its meeting of Thursday, 06 October 2016.
“The order, which has been signed by the Governor, draws on powers vested by the 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 or public health; or the rights and freedom of all persons in Kaduna State.
“Section 97A of the Penal Code (Cap 110, Laws of Kaduna State, 1991) empowers the Governor to declare as an unlawful society any organisation whose activities are dangerous to the security and good governance of the state.
“The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Zaria Clashes of 12-14 December 2015 found that the IMN is not a registered organisation, that it has a paramilitary wing and that its members do not recognise 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 regrettable 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 noted that “these acts, if allowed to go unchecked will constitute danger to the peace, tranquility, harmonious coexistence and good governance of Kaduna State”.
The Declaration Order, which comes into effect on Friday, 7 October 2016, provides for the prosecution of persons that may be in breach of its provisions under the laws of Kaduna State.
The statement reaffirmed the commitment of the Kaduna State government to upholding the right of citizens to practice the religion of their choice as protected by Sections 38 and 40 of the Constitution.