The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has condemned the proscription of its activities by the Sokoto State Government.
In a statement on Thursday issued by it spokesperson, Ibrahim Musa, IMN denied that its members were planning an unlawful procession in Sokoto.
The state had on Wednesday joined some others in the north to proscribe the group and banned it from staging any public procession that could disturb the peace in the state.
The state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Sulaiman Usman, at a press conference, said “there are ongoing activities of Shiite members in the state that could cause public disorder”.
He warned the group that: “under the Public Order Act, permission for any procession has to be sought through the security agencies.”
Members of the group have staged rallies across the nation to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015.
Mr. El-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested on December 14, 2015, following a bloody clash between members of his group and the Nigerian Army in Zaria, Kaduna State.
However, reacting to the warning by Sokoto state government, IMN said it followed constitutional process in all its processions and had never had any violent rally in the state.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, we will like to remind the state government and the general public that all our processions have been peaceful throughout the history of the Islamic Movement.
“In fact, the last three processions held by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Sokoto metropolis were devoid of anything unpleasant and even enjoyed police protection as ordered by the constitution. Hence we are surprised by the anticipated ‘public disorder’ as proclaimed by the Commissioner.
“It is unfortunate that a learned counsel that the Justice Commissioner is will cite Public Order Act to perpetrate an act of illegality.”
The group said a judgement of the Court of Appeal had said Nigerians do not need police permit to assemble.
“In present day Nigeria, clearly police permit has outlived its usefulness. Certainly in a democracy, it is the right of citizens to conduct peaceful processions, rallies or demonstrations without seeking and obtaining permission from anybody.
“It is a right guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution and any law that attempts to curtail such right is null and void and of no consequences,” the statement said.
“We will like to reiterate to the general public of our commitment to peaceful assembly and protests not only in Sokoto but the nation in general. This has been the teaching of our illegally incarcerated leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky for decades, and no amount of intimidation will make us abandon that noble Islamic path.
“We are aware of attempts by the security agencies to carry out false flag attacks in our name. However, this will not make us shy away from our responsibility of exposing their vile attempts,” it stated.