Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, on Saturday faulted the Friday’s order of the Federal High Court in Abuja proscribing the Islamic Movement in Nigeria popularly known as Shiites.
Ozekhome in a statement sent to our correspondent said the court’s ruling which also declared the Shiite movement as a terrorist group was unconstitutional on the grounds that a religious group could not be banned.
He added that the proscription was discriminatory, under an Administration which he said had refused to take such step against killer herdsmen that had been holding the country in the jugular for a long time.
Contending that the proscription was a violation of the rights of the members of the group guaranteed under section 38, 40 and 41 of the Constitution, the senior lawyer said, “the Constitution is ruthlessly being shredded by an intolerant and overbearing civilian dictatorship.”
He added, “It is not an association that could be banned.
“Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution makes Nigeria a secular State.
“You can’t ban religion, a people’s belief.
“There is also freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in section 38, while sections 40 and 41 allow for freedom of movement and association.”
Saturday PUNCH had reported exclusively that the Federal Government on Friday obtained the ex parte order on Friday, about three days after a bloody clash between members of the group and the police in Abuja claimed the lives of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Federal Capital Territory Command, Usman Umar, and a Channels Television journalist, Precious Owolabi.
But Ozekhome wondered why the Federal Government had yet to make a move to proscribe the “herdsmen and their known anchor, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association that has held Nigeria down by the jugular for years”.
He said, “The proscription by the government of the Shi’ites religious group is highly discriminatory, unconstitutional, as was the case of Indigenous People of Biafra.
“What group could be more terrorist than the Herdsmen and their known anchor, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association that has held Nigeria down by the jugular for years, killing, maiming, burning, raping, turning Nigeria into a crimson field of a bloodbath?
“Until the government bans and outlaws these, it is certainly not serious.
“They are demanding for the release of their leader still kept in government dungeon in spite of several court orders.
“The Shi’ite group is a religious group, like the President’s Sunni group.”
This piece first appeared in the Punch Newspaper