Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, has said: “The intention of El-Zakzaky was to gather enough followers to effect an Iranian-type revolution in Nigeria. Nigeria is not a 100 per cent Muslim country where you can do that kind of revolution.’’
He stated that he decided to declare the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) an unlawful society because its activities posed an insurgency that was waiting to happen.
el-Rufai, who spoke to select journalists on Monday, said IMN leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, was not practising the doctrine of Shiism.
The governor clarified that he neither banned the Shi’ite sect nor Shiism in Kaduna State but merely invoked the powers conferred on him by the penal code which was enacted in 1963, to declare IMN an unlawful society.
According to el-Rufai, the government only declared IMN illegal, adding that there are two other Shi’ite sects carrying on with their activities freely in Kaduna State.
He argued, however, that it is wrong to equate only IMN with Shiism, adding that IMN is just one group that professes the doctrine but there are several others.
“There is also a misconception that IMN is the same thing as Shi’ites; it is only one sect out of many Shi’ite organisations. There is one Shii’te group that is headquartered here in Kaduna that is headed by Sheikh Hamza Lawal. He used to be with IMN but he left them when he realised that IMN is more interested in political struggles than religious development,” he said.
el-Rufai said Sheikh Hamza appeared before the Justice Lawal Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry, and gave evidence by saying that “there is nothing in Shia doctrine that says that you should not recognise the government of your country.’’
el-Rufai pointed out that the government cannot ban any religious organisation or practise in the state, noting, however, that the penal code gives him the powers to declare any organisation as an unlawful society “if it poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state.’’
‘’We concluded, after receiving the report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry that looked into the clashes between IMN and the army, that IMN poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state,’’ he said, adding that “we did not ban Shiism, we did not ban Shi’ites, we did not say that they can’t practice their religion.’’
Adducing more reasons why he declared IMN an unlawful society, El Rufai said that the group ‘’does not recognise the constitution of Nigeria. They do not recognise Buhari as president. They do not recognise me as Governor of Kaduna State, they had their own governor in Tudun Wada.’’
According to the governor, IMN have their own paramilitary personnel which they call “Hurras” and they used to bear arms in violation of the Nigerian laws. And they do not accept that any law in Nigeria applies to them,’’ he further said.
In spite of the fact that IMN had been declared an unlawful organisation, el-Rufai, however, said it is wrong for citizens to take the law into their hands by attacking them, saying those who attacked some IMN members during the last Ashura celebrations had been apprehended and being prosecuted in court.