Sect vows to hold annual procession
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Police and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) yesterday appeared set for a showdown as they traded words over the sect’s planned procession scheduled to take place today.
While the police warned that the planned religious procession by the Sheik Ibrahim el-Zakzaky-led IMN would be considered illegal in view of the fact that the organisation remained proscribed, the DSS alleged plot by what it described as some subversive groups and individuals within and outside the country to undermine national security. It warned that the full weight of the law would be brought to bear on such criminal elements.
But the IMN countered, accusing the federal government of planning to unleash terror on unsuspecting Nigerians in the name of the group.
The Shiite Islamic sect plans an annual procession today. The procession is carried out yearly to mark the birth of the grandson of Prophet Mohammed.
The group said it was covered under the constitutional provision that guaranteed freedom of association.
But the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Adamu Mohammed, in a statement in Abuja, said the police would not allow the procession to take place in view of the status of the group as a proscribed organisation thus putting a stamp of illegality on the group.
The group is, however, in court to challenge the proscription order.
The police said in a statement: “It has come to the knowledge of the Nigeria Police Force that some members of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) intend to embark on a nationwide procession, ostensibly to cause disruption of public peace, order and security in the country.
“The Force notes that in line with the Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice 2019 of 26th July, 2019, the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have been proscribed. Consequently, all gathering or procession by the group remains ultimately illegal and will be treated as a gathering in the advancement of terrorism.”
The statement signed by Force Public Relations Officer and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Mr. Frank Mba, said police commissioners in the 36 states and FCT and their supervisory Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) were ordered to put in place measures to avert any procession.
On its part, the DSS said the identified groups and individuals planned to exploit the political differences within and outside the country to destabilise the country.
DSS, in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Peter Afunanya, said the groups planned to inflame passions across ethnic and religious divides.
“The aim is to set the country on fire as well as inflame passions across ethnic and religious divides with expected violent consequences. Also, the service expresses dismay over the increasing use of fake news and unsubstantiated information spread across social media platforms to deceive and incite sections of the populace to civil unrest,” DSS said.
But the IMN in a statement yesterday by President, Media Forum of the group, Mr. Ibrahim Musa, alleged that the attack the federal government was planning was specially planned to coincide with the sect’s Ashurah day celebration today.
The statement said security officials, journalists and other members of the public would be attacked in order to further tar the name of IMN.
The statement read in part: “IMN wishes to alert the general public and the security agents that government, in its desperation, is planning to kill innocent security personnel, journalists and some members of the public so as to later put the blame on members of the Islamic Movement just as they did in July, 2019 in Abuja.
“We, therefore, call on security personnel, journalists and members of the public to be particularly extra vigilant. The general public, media and the international community should now hold the government responsible for the false flag operation should violence breakout during our usual Ashurah commemoration tomorrow Tuesday.”