Re-Why We Ban IMN's Activities in Plateau
By Abdulmumin Giwa
Responding to a press statement by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), as reported by the Trust newspaper of 24 October 2016, the Plateau state Governor Solomon Lalong stated his reason for banning the IMN.
Before I go into the rejoinder proper, let me start by correcting the journalist that made the report because he seems not to be enlightened enough about IMN. He referred to the President of the Media Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria Malam Ibrahim Musa as the leader of the IMN in Plateau state. This is a misinformation that proves that he knows nothing about the IMN maybe because of its serenity and peaceful nature in Jos.
If the IMN was any threat to peace and tranquility in Jos to deserve the wanton attack it got from a collection of military men, police and hired thugs, the name of its leader in the state, and even outside the state, would have since become a household name especially to journalists in the state. But alas from the report by the journalist it shows that the IMN is so peaceful in the state that neither its activities nor the name of its leader is known.
Of course the IMN has never featured at any point in time in any of the crises that have bedeviled the Plateau in the past years despite its being in the state for the past three decades. How then would a religious group with this record of peaceful coexistence be termed as a security threat?
The Plateau state governor Solomon Lalong, was reported to have said that security considerations were purely responsible for the ban on the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria. It was that easy to mention of a people whose names have never featured in all travails the state had faced in the past. Hence he could not even sight any single example of such security threat posed by the IMN.
Earlier his spokesperson Mr Dan Manjang had issued a different statement that confirmed that the IMN has been peaceful only to go back on his words again to uphold the ban suggesting indecisiveness and foul play.
There is no such thing as a reference to the laws of the state that regulate religious practice by Lalong when he claimed that there were laws in the state that regulate religious practice. Do such laws tell adherents of religion what to and what not to practice in their religion or what? The Nigerian constitution frowns at his claims by giving the right to worship, associate, spread your belief and right not to be discriminated at.
In which way is the Ashura procession which the Lalong boys and sponsored thugs attacked and killed several IMN members, tortured many and jailed several others including women and children, a threat to security. This is an event that has been held every year for the past over three decades of the IMN in Jos without any single trace of security breach to refer to. Why now?
The way and manner the IMN members were attacked in Jos was more of a terrorist activity by the state. Unarmed men, women and children were beaten with sticks by security operatives and arraigned for no just course before the court and jailed without any option of bail including pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants. Is only a terrorist in power that can act in this manner and not a responsible leader.
How would the governor respond to human rights activists with all the pictures and video clips showing torture and violation of fundamental human rights by a team of security agents and hired thugs with him as the chief security of the state? Definitely it is a slap on his political career.
In case governor Lalong is not aware, the IMN members he attacked were simply in a mourning procession of to mark the martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), Imam Husain (AS). Because some Sunni sect adherents he is with do not practice it does not in any way stop it from being an Islamic practice.
More so, those arrested were tortured by the security operatives, they were beaten and some were even fractured as a result and the security personnel were even insulting the Household of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) saying they should call Mahdi (AS) to come and save them. I wonder how governor Lalong will feel when as a citizen of a state adhering to Christianity, the governor of his state orders him to be maltreated and insulted to the extent of telling him to call Jesus to come and save him. Definitely he will feel bad but here he is ordering the same on innocent Shiite Muslims because he is a Governor.
Or is it the black hijab (women cover) his terror team used in identifying IMN members and arresting and arraigning them and fabricating lies against them before the court, that they were caught with weapons, that is the security threat? Where did the Nigerian Constitution instruct on the type or color of dress to wear? This is simply an act of discrimination by the state in total contravention of the constitution.
If Lalong sees anything that he does not understand about the Islam being practiced by the IMN members then it is wrong of him to approach their adversaries on what they are doing. This is simply because they are in the best position to explain to him what they are doing. At least he is a Christian he knows that they have Catholics and Anglicans among them so he should not be surprised that there are Sunnis and Shi’ites in Islam as well.
If governors of the other states that are at war with the Shiites because they are Sunnis, like the Kaduna state governor in particular, and could kill the Shiites and be praised by their Sunni supporters as doing a good Jihad for Islam, in Lalong’s position is he also fighting the Jihad? Unless of course he is using the opportunity to display his intolerance and Christian extremism against the Shiite Muslims he is antagonizing.
If this is the case then he is antagonizing the wrong set of Muslims. Because the IMN are the Muslims whose leader has always protected the Christians from attacks by those who see the Christians as their adversaries during the various crises that have bedeviled the country in the past. Mr. Lalong should go and do his homework because he is killing the wrong Muslims if his intention is to kill Muslims. Moreover there is no need for anyone to kill another person because of his religion.
In a nutshell, there is no reason for governor Lalong to have engaged in a very sensitive issue like this which other governors like those of Bauchi and Nasarawa in particular have declined to join. They chose to allow freedom of worship and association in their states.
The same events Mr. Lalong attacked with brute force in Jos were conducted peacefully and successfully in all the other states where they were not attacked by security operatives and hired thugs. If there was any security breach it would have been seen in those states where the Ashura mourning events were not attacked. Therefore, if Lalong had not clamped down on the procession in Jos using military, police and hired thugs, everything would have ended peacefully.
More so, it is a wrong footing for him and his political career to start breeding unnecessary enemies for himself. I advise Lalong to sheath his sword of fighting against Shiites under any guise at all. Even those Muslims that despise the IMN among the Muslims accuse the IMN of being too close to Christians because of the IMN policy of unity among humanity irrespective of race, tribe or religion. The ideas of the IMN are the best that can run a better Nigeria for all.