By Lanre Adesanya
The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has demanded tough responses to Wednesday’s violent protests by the Shiite sect’s outlawed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which led to over a dozen deaths across several cities in the northern parts of the country.
The centre asked security agencies and government at all levels to hold IMN responsible for the violence it is spreading across several cities.
A statement issued by CESJET’s Executive Director, Joyce Adamu blamed the Shiites for daring the state and attempting to create a parallel government and constitution for themselves in the name of freedom of religion.
The statement said IMN’s decision to attempt holding processions when it has been proscribed by an order of the Kaduna state government was provocative and was intended to breach the peace, provoke confrontation with security agencies and cause the kind of violent response witnessed on Wednesday.
It said IMN’s confrontations with citizens in Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and other states is an indication that people across Nigeria support their state governments to outlaw the extremist sect the way Kaduna state did and that the Federal Government must also outlaw the group as part of the nation’s counter terror efforts.
CESJET noted that “the Shiite group’s years of terror has made the people across the north to be united against the wave of terrorism by IMN members and that they are ready to stake anything to support the security agencies in curbing their menace. The people are vehemently against them in Funtua and Kaduna, which is a wake up call to the government that it must be proactive and respect people’s will to avoid them taking law into their own hands.
“The leadership of IMN must be held responsible for the latest incidents of violence. They must be told in clear terms that their attempt to make laws for themselves to govern other Nigerians is the height of callousness and to dare the sovereignty of Nigeria is a life threatening provocation.
“We urge Nigerians of all faiths to resist the temptation of being brought down to the level of the IMN by losing regard for the sanctity of human life. They must at all times invite law enforcement agencies to deal with the Shiite menace as they are the only ones legally empowered to do so.
“Our appeal is that security agencies must shake off the blackmail mounted by international NGOs on behalf of IMN to do their work and go after trouble makers. Fanatics cannot be allowed to make the country ungovernable simply because their international allies keep throwing the threat of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the faces of those entrusted with the safety of Nigerians.
“They should unravel the source of police uniform as well as the dangerous and sophisticated weapons found with the Shiites in Kaduna, Kaduna State and Funtua, Katsina State during the violence. Our concern is that their foreign sponsors might be secretly arming them.
“We demand that all other states, relying on the constitution and following the example of Kaduna state, immediately proscribe the IMN and outlaw its activities including processions that its members now use to launch attacks on Nigerians. An outright ban across all states is especially in the north because IMN has started to exhibit the tendencies of Boko Haram terrorist group and might be affiliating with other foreign terrorists groups such as ISIS and Hezbollah.
“The Federal Government must on its part recognise IMN as the new front in the war against terrorism and designate the movement as a terror group so that it can seek international support for preventing its funding from Iran,” the statement demanded.