Professor Ango Abdullahi, the leader of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) warned the Nigerian Government against proscribing the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in his reaction to the court order obtained for the group’s proscription.
The former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, in his interview with Vanguard alleged that the Federal Government has not treated members of the Islamic sect fairly as Nigerians. Prof. Ango added that members of the sect have rights and their rights should be recognised and given to them.
“We have laws in this country. Nigerian citizens are to be treated within the ambit of the laws of this country. Innocent people are losing their lives and currently, what is happening with the Shi’ites is that they don’t seem to be treated as Nigerians. They have rights and their rights should be recognised and given to them.
“We have been watching this thing for a long time. Their matter has been in court for years and their leader has been granted bail for three, four, five years. Why are court rulings not being respected?
“The IMN is a religious group. Why are they treated differently within the laws of Nigeria? These are the kind of things that produced a resistance group we have today as Boko Haram. When it started, they were not treated like human beings. Rather, they started killing them left, right and centre. Of course they organised themselves and started fighting back and they have been fighting back till today.
“So, if they are not careful and they keep pushing these boys, they will have problem. These boys even have an ideology unlike Boko Haram which had none until much later when they linked up with other international groups. If they push these ones, I think they would be surprised.
“So, basically, the way they are treating them is wrong. They have rights. If they have misbehaved, they should be treated according to the laws of the country. There were court rulings, so many court rulings in their own case that are being ignored by government” he said.
Prof. Ango also called out the “rubber stamp” national lawmakers for supporting President Buhari and not checking the excesses of the executive which according to him is why they were elected.
“IMN is a religious organisation that exists in every part of the world. The whole thing now is international. You know Iran is a Shi’ites country and Iran is not friendly with many countries around the world particularly Saudi Arabia, United States and so on. It is this international politics that is playing out here. But you cannot deny people their right to religion and worship. People should worship the way they want. What is this bitterness all about? To me, it is sheer bitterness.
“The leader of the Shi’ites was my student in Ahmadu Bello University where he studied Economics. The Shi’ites sect in Islam has been in existence for over 1,000 years and there are Shi’ites groups around the world and countries that are virtually Shi’ites countries. Iran is one of them. Iraq is one of them. Syria is one of them. So, what is the problem?
“To me, the authorities are clearly biased in favour of other Islamic sects.
“The House of Representatives is supposed to be the custodian of the laws of this country. Should they deny people their rights? What is playing out is politics and I can understand that because the relationship between this government and the new National Assembly is different from that of the other assembly. This is a rubber-stamp National Assembly. It is up to them to manage the country as they wish but they should also be prepared for the consequences.”