In the last few weeks, Nigerians have been inundated with cries of condemnations from the members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) about the behind-the-scenes photos and a 12-minute-clip from the set of Nollywood movie titled, ‘Fatal Arrogance,’ still in the oven or production room. The movie which is produced by Anosike Kingsley Orji, was shot in Enugu, the Coal City and has a veteran Nollywood actor, Pete Edochie, playing the lead role.
Predictably, the movie title is derived from the book written by a security analyst cum activist, Mr. Terrence Kuanum. What many are confused is why the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) would be jittery over a movie that is still under production and has not yet been released to the public?
Already, the group has started pointing accusing fingers at some highly respected security institutions and its leadership, claiming those they consider as their enemies are responsible for sponsorship of the movie production. An evil man is perpetually under the illusion that he is being haunted. So, the IMN have also accused the lead actor, Pete Edochie of lending credibility to the movie as well as depicting and portraying the terrorist group and its arrow-head of terror , Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, in a demeaning manner.
But this is a movie whose official trailer is yet to be released, and the name of the IMN leader is not mentioned. How come IMN is already agitated and making allegations? That’s the “Fatal Mistake” in the whole sordid drama by the outlaws in IMN, which best illustrates the efficacy of the axiom that evildoers perpetually dread their shadows, even when they are nowhere near anyone’s target. Are the outlawed IMN members afraid of their own shadows. That’s the power of retributive justice.
The IMN has no right of attacking and condemning Pete Edochie for taking a role in any movie. He is a professional actor and provided his services to the hirer for a fee and it is legitimate. Why are IMN member bothered about the credibility of Edochie? Has their leader, El-Zakzaky any credible credibility, outside incitement to breach of public peace, violence and terrorism?
Film acting is a trade Edochie has been known for all his life. In the countless movies in which he has featured in the past, some of which he has played the role of a wicked King, from a setting depicting a particular people or culture, did those concerned took arms against him or hurled threats at him or why didn’t the IMN complain then? The IMN has no veto powers to pass judgment on the person of Pete Edochie and his professional career.
The IMN and their violent activities are not new to anyone, hence the people and Government of Nigeria have always been critical of them. First, the movement fundamentally believes and proclaims that there is no government except the tin god they profess allegiance in some foreign country.
The same leader and founder of the group, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, whom they are claiming has been portrayed in a demeaning manner in the movie, has since the early 1980s, called for an Islamic revolution to create an Islamic state in Nigeria, an end to Western influence in the country and the stringent adoption of Islamic legal codes, principles and systems violently. This same group is very critical of Northern Nigeria’s traditional, religious and political elite.
The IMN has a history of violence even though they claim they have a reputation for upholding peace even at the peak of unprovoked attacks. The group has a history of clashes with the Nigerian security forces and other Muslim groups.
In 1991, El-Zakzaky and his followers clashed with security forces in Katsina.
In 1996, his followers seized and decapitated a Christian on the allegation that his wife used pages torn from the Quran to clean their infant baby. What a shame to humanity! Precisely in June 2005, this same group clashed with the emirate authorities in Sokoto, over access to the city’s central mosque. In July 2007, the sect masterminded the murder of a Sunni cleric in Sokoto, Umar Dan Maishiya, who had been highly critical of the IMN and its activities . It sparked reprisal attacks that killed at least five persons and destroyed many of their homes.
Members of the IMN and supporters of El-Zakzaky had in September 2009, clashed with police in Zaria, leading to injuries and deaths on both sides. The group had another major clash with the military, during a pro-Palestinian procession in Zaria on 25 July 2014, and three sons of El-Zakzaky, all undergraduates at the time lost their lives.
Are these imaginary images of the outlawed IMN? Why are they questioning the contents of “Fatal Mistake,” even if directed at them? Normal human beings protest what is falsehoods; but truth cannot be blurred and IMN should not place itself in a position to continue to intimidate and harass other Nigerians with their foolery.
Indeed, the relationship between IMN and the Government has always been characterized by antagonisms and recurrent hostilities. The Government views IMN as an extremist group building up the critical mass it needs to eventually turn incontrollable like the Boko Haram sect, while they (IMN) claim the Government want to wipe it out. No one quarrels with it; but the outlawed IMN must necessarily create its own country to operate by a different set of rules or laws, but not in Nigeria.
Their aberration are serial. In 2015, this same group blocked the road in Kaduna state, denying the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai and his convoy passage, while on official duty, when he was en-route to a military ceremony in the city of Zaria. Hundreds of armed members of the group barricaded General Buratai’s way, brandishing clubs and chanting Allahu Akbar (God is great), on the flimsy excuse that their leader was to use the same public road at about that time. What impunity! Even at this incident, the incensed IMN members cracked the trouble first.
They ignored warnings to disperse, then started pelting the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff with dangerous objects. The troops responsible for the Army Chief’s safety had to protect him by clearing the barricades forcefully, but did so in accordance with the Army’s rules of engagement and code of conduct. If a group who claims to be a peaceful religious can go to the extent of blocking and attacking the convoy of COAS of the country, then there is absolutely nobody that the group will be afraid of.
Again the death of a Deputy Police Commissioner, Usman Umar, who was fatally shot, and the many others that were injured in the violence in Abuja in 2019 is still fresh in our minds. If not for the aggressive and intolerant nature of this group, Precious Owolabi, a youth Corps Member and Channels Television reporter would still be alive. This intolerant group has left a hole in the hearts of the deceased parents and relatives and they will grieve for a lifetime. Nigerians have not forgotten it.
The IMN has no face saving because Nigerians know them as a violent group. What the group fails to understand is that, the movie which they are so much afraid of, has just a fraction of their atrocities to tell Nigerians. The whole world knows about their activities and penchant for violence. Their condemnation and aspersions on the producers and entire cast of the yet-to-be released movie has rather helped to give it the needed publicity. In fact, we are now looking forward to the release date. We are all waiting to watch this movie.
Duniya is a public affairs commentator and wrote from Kaduna.