Sultan, others should guarantee El-Zakzaky’s release, says Shehu Sani

To rights activist and former Senator Shehu Sani, proscribing the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) as a terror organisation will not end the face-off between the group and the Federal Government.

He urged the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III and other prominent Islamic leaders to stand as guarantors for the groups’ detained leader, Sheikh Ibrahhem El-Zakzaky and his wife.

In chat with reporters on Sunday in Kano on the recurring clashes between IMN and security agencies, the senator said the ban will worsen the crisis.

He said: “The solutions to IMN problem, in my personal opinion, are four. The first is that the Sultan of Sokoto and other religious leaders should provide guarantee to the Federal Government on which the leader of the IMN would be released to them. Secondly, the IMN should stop all forms of protest, whether peaceful or violent.

“The third aspect of it: the government should move towards addressing the problems of their members who were killed and their homes that were destroyed, in compliance with the previous court orders.

“The fourth aspect of it is that the movement should stop its alleged relationship with nations outside of Nigeria that pose security threats on our country. If they are a movement, they should be a movement; as the name implies, a Nigerian movement to pursue their ideas, their beliefs and whatever they preach.”

The senator said everything must be done to avoid a situation where the movement will suddenly disappear from the radar to spring surprises.

Sani said: “The court of law cannot address a problem of either insurgency or agitation or crushing this kind of idea. We have heard several laws on terrorism. It is 10 years today, but we are still battling Boko Haram. That is one.

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“Secondly, which one do we prefer: the Islamic Movement that has a leader we can arrest, that has members we can see, that has an identity that we can prosecute or a group that can be forced to go underground and pose a serious security danger to the country? I think the option is ours.”

A human rights’ group, Access to Justice, also said that the proscription through an ex-parte order negated fair hearing.

In a statement by its Convener Joseph Otteh and Programme Officer Daniel Igiekhumhe, Access to Justice said it was dismayed by the orders, which it called “deeply unfortunate”.

It said: “With respect, the court clearly sacrifices the constitutional and due process rights of the IMN group in the very flawed process it followed to arrive at its decision.”

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