Sunday, 28 July 2019

Shiites Movements Lawyer,Femi Falana Condemns Proposed Proscription Of Islamic Movement

Two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, and Chief Mike Ozekhome; elder statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode; and others have described as unconstitutional the court order proscribing the Shiites group.

They said the proscription was illegal and discriminatory on the grounds that a religious group could not be banned.

They also considered the court’s action as hypocritical, under an administration that they said had refused to take such step in dealing with killer herdsmen who had murdered thousands of Nigerians.

Calling for the withdrawal of the IMN’s proscription, Falana in a statement on Saturday described the move by the Federal Government as a desperate bid to prevent the Shiites from demanding the release of their detained leader and his wife from the custody of the Department of State Services.

Falana, who has been defending El-Zakzaky and Zeenat since their detention in 2016, said it was not possible to ban a religious group such as IMN.

He said, “Since there are millions of Shiites who belong to the IMN, the Federal Government will soon realise that it has merely driven the body underground.

“The proscription of the IMN because of its protests against the disobedience of court orders by the President Muhammadu Buhari regime is immoral and illegal in every material particular.”

Falana said the development was an opportunistic move by the Sunni Muslims in public office in using the instrumentality of their office to proscribe the Shiites body.

He said, “It is particularly opportunistic on the part of the Sunnis occupying public office to use the instrumentality of the state to liquidate the Shiites.

“The illegal proscription of the IMN should be withdrawn. It will not stand as the fundamental right of the Shiites  to freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed.”

Also, Ozekhome in a statement said the Shiites group proscription was discriminatory, stating that it was a violation of the rights of the members of the group guaranteed under sections 38, 40 and 41 of the constitution.

He said the association could not be banned because Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution made the country a secular state.

“You can’t ban religion, a people’s belief,” he added.

Ozekhome wondered why the Federal Government had yet to proscribe killer herdsmen and their “known anchor, the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which has held Nigeria down by the jugular for years.”

“The Shiites group is a religious group, just like the President’s Sunnis group,” the lawyer added.

On his part, Adebanjo said the proscription order showed the level of intolerance by the President Buhari administration.

He said, “The proscription is highly condemnable of this government. We have been saying that they are very intolerant.

“What about those who needed to the proscribed. These are people who have kidnapped, but you (the government) grant them the right to freely walk about.

“In a constitutional democracy, this kind of proscription is not right and it shows the trait of dictatorship that we have been complaining about this government.”

Similarly, Fani-Kayode condemned the IMN ban, saying the group would not have been protesting if their leader had been released.

The former minister wrote via his Twitter handle @realFFK, “We Christians in Nigeria will never forget the way in which Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his Shia Muslims protected and assisted our brothers and sisters in the North over the years when the Salafists, Wahhabi Sunni fundamentalists, slaughtered us like flies.

“We stand by them at this difficult time. We condemn the proscription of the IMN and we say no to the tyranny of Buhari.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s aide, Reno Omokri, also faulted the decision of the Federal Government to proscribe the IMN.

In a message posted on his Twitter handle @renoomokri, he recalled that the ruling All Progressives Congress (previously the Action Congress of Nigeria) had faulted Jonathan when he banned the Boko Haram terrorist sect.

He wrote, “When Jonathan declared Boko Haram a terror group in 2013 and banned them, the APC (then called ACN) rejected the ban, claiming it was ‘unconstitutional.’

“Today, the same people have banned Shiites. Between Shiites and Boko Haram, who is the terrorist?”

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