•Police to recruit 40,000 special constables for community policing
•Obey court order, free Shi’ite leader, Onaiyekan tells FG
Kingsley Nwezeh and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Citing the pronouncement of a Federal High Court, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday declared the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) belonging to the Shiite Islamic sect, a terrorist group and enemies of the state.
The Federal High Court in Abuja, ruling in an ex-parte motion filed by the federal government, had on July 26 ordered the proscription of the sect.
Adamu said following the proscription of the group by the government, the police would treat its members as terrorists and enemies of state.
He added that members of the group who engage in further advancement of the cause of the proscribed group would be prosecuted.
He spoke at a meeting in Abuja with senior police officers on the same day the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, asked the federal government to respect the order of the court granting the leader of the Shi’ite Islamic group, Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky and his wife bail.
Adamu said following the subversive activities of the sect over the years, including the recent violence unleashed by the group, which claimed the lives of a senior police officer, Umar Usman, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and a reporter with Channels TV, Precious Owolabi, the el-Zakzaky group would be treated as a terrorist organisation.
He listed the unlawful activities of the sect to include the setting up of a paramilitary guard known as Hurras through which the group had terrorised local residents, engaging in provocative preaching and hate speeches aimed at inciting members and non-members, working towards its agenda of creating an Islamic state in Nigeria and challenging the legitimacy of the federal government.
Others include the non-recognition of the 1999 Constitution, non-recognition of state authority, non-recognition of democratic values and disrespect for judicial processes.
“It is obvious from the foregoing that the activities of the IMN constitute glaring defiance and/or rebellion against the Nigerian state, calculated efforts to plunge the nation into ethno-religious war, intimidation of citizens and security agencies, disrespect for Nigerian laws and the authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“Their activities also clearly and consistently negate Section 1(20(A) & (B) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013 and hence, justify their proscription in overriding national security interest.
“In consequence, henceforth, any person engaged or associating in any manner that could advance the activities of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria shall be treated as a terrorist, enemy of state and a subversive element and shall be brought to justice within the context of the Terrorism Act. The import of this is that all forms of procession or protest by IMN are now illegal and thus banned,” he said.
The IG also said as a way of strengthening community policing in the country, the police would recruit 40,000 special constables to be engaged as Community Policing Officers (CPO) as part of measures towards evolving a community-focused policing architecture.
Besides, the police, he added, arrested 4,187 high- profile suspects nationwide.
The IG said the breakdown of the community policing deployment plan, which is in accordance with the Police Act, covers the recruitment of 40,000 CPOs across the country.
“The CPOs will be recruited from within the communities where the prospective applicants reside and average of 50 CPOs are to be engaged in each of the 774 local government areas.
“In addition, 1,300 CPOs will be drawn from professional bodies like the academics, road transport unions, artisans, traders’ associations, religious bodies, women unions, youth organisations, among others, in order to ensure diverse representation,” he said.
According to him, the CPOs will be deployed within their localities to complement the police in law enforcement functions by performing low-risk and non-sensitive duties as well as acting as liaisons between the police and their communities.
The police, he said, have also arrested 4,187 high-profile suspects nationwide between January and July.
Those arrested include 1,629 armed robbery suspects, 1,053 suspected kidnappers, 1,053 cultists and 482 murder suspects.
The police also recovered 1,181 firearms of various descriptions and calibre, including Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and rocket launchers in various police operations across the country within the same period.
Among the rescued victims, he said, 300 were secured in Zamfara State while 249 were rescued from bandits operating in the forests in and around Zamfara.
Obey Court Order, Free Shi’ite Leader, Onaiyekan Tells FG
Meanwhile, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan has asked the federal government to respect the order of the court and release el-Zakzaky from detention.
Decrying what he described as a worsening security situation in the country in the last five years, Onaiyekan said the federal government’s refusal to admit the horrible state of affairs and to take genuine actions to address it had worsened the crisis.
Onaiyekan who expressed fear over the present state of insecurity in the country, also regretted the waning confidence and trust people have in the government.
Onaiyekan, who addressed a press conference yesterday in Abuja to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his priesthood, said the best way to address any infraction of the law committed by members of the religious group was to prosecute them and not to apply extra-judicial methods.
According to Onaiyekan, the federal government has a moral burden to work towards restoring public trust and confidence without which no appreciable progress in governance can be made.
He said the federal government’s handling of the Shi’ite issue fell short of expectations and was causing embarrassment to the country.
“I am not a Muslim, but if I was a Muslim, I will also fight for the freedom of every Muslim because freedom of religion is not just freedom between two religions; there is also freedom within religions.
“If the Shi’ites are protesting, they have told us clearly why they are doing so. The fact that I have not joined them in the protest does not mean that I don’t believe that they have the right to protest. Their leader has been under detention against court orders, ordering that he be released; a court order that we have been told very bluntly that has been rejected by the executive. I don’t know what would have happened if I was detained unjustly or even for any reason and the court orders my release and they refuse to allow it; I don’t know if anyone will be able to stop the Catholics from protesting,” he added.