Court Adjourns IMN’s Suit Challenging Proscription till Sept. 11

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday adjourned till September 11, 2019, hearing in the motion filed by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), challenging its ban and designation as a terrorist organization.

Maha had on July 26, while delivering ruling in an exparte application filed by the federal government proscribed the activities of the movement in the country.

However, the movement otherwise known as Shiite in a motion on notice filed on August 2, have asked the court to vacate the ex-parte order made on July 26, proscribing the existence and activities of the group in Nigeria on the grounds that the said order, was made without jurisdiction and in violation of their fundamental rights.

The group in the motion filed by their lawyer, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana also asked 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.”

When the matter was called on Wednesday, counsel to the federal government and Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, however informed the court of an application he filed Tuesday, seeking to regularise the process of the government in the suit.

The application was not objected to by the Shiite’s lawyer, Falana SAN, following which the application was deemed to have been properly filed and served by the court.

Falana accordingly asked for a short adjournment to enable him respond appropriately to the position of the government.

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.

The application was predicated on the grounds that “the ex-parte order made on July 26, was made without jurisdiction, as the order was made against a non juristic body.

”This honourable court on July 26, pursuant to an ex parte application brought by the IMN made an order, inter alia, proscribing the existence and activities of the group in any part of Nigeria under whatever form, either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called or referred to without affording the Respondent/Applicant the right of fair hearing.

”The said order of the honorable court breached the fundamental right 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 IMN while arguing that there was no urgency warranting the grant of the order ex parte, observed that no motion on notice was filed together with the motion ex-parte.

The group further submitted that the ex-parte order made by the court has determined the fundamental right of the respondent/applicant without affording them fair hearing.

“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,” the group stated.

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.

It reads: ”Notice is hereby given that by the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/Cs/876/2019 dated July 26, 2019 as per the schedule to this notice, the activities of IMN in Nigeria are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, as proscribed, pursuant to Sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended).

”Consequently, the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the said group will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended) and liable to prosecution.

”(This notice shall be cited as the Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice 2019.”