Recent media reports have shown that a new report has emanated from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari declaring some groups including the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) as threats to national security.
The said classified document was titled ‘2016 Annual Threat Assessment’ and was an analysis by a created multi-agency and multi-disciplinary organization called the Intelligence Fusion Center (IFC). The activities of the IFC include analyzing information from different sources and agencies with respect to threat to the country. It then integrates all information gathered by different security agencies into a single intelligence product.
Some of the parameters used in determining the organizations that constitute threats to the security of the nation include intent and capability.
What is of concern is how the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) led by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky made the list as it is clear that the Movement does not in any way share the same characteristics with the other groups that have made the list.
Firstly, the IMN is simply a minority religious group in Nigeria that is inclined to the Shia ideas of Islamic religion, the IMN is not armed or violent in its activities, the IMN does not have any records of attacking or posing any form of threats to anybody at any time in its forty years of existence, the IMN is not an insurgent and is transparent in its activities and owns worship centers, medical facilities, over 300 schools, news media, various organizational fora, Property, millions of membership from all strata of life and is peaceful in all its dispensations. Its activities include peace promotion among adherents of various religions and sects as well as encouraging fairness and justice to all irrespective of tribe, region, section or religion. It has had records of being the highest blood donors for several years in the country.
More so, with all dirty records of religious intolerance and crises in the north of Nigeria especially, the IMN has never been identified in any of such as do other religious groups that spread hate speeches in their worship places and incite people into violence.
One is left to wonder how such a group would make the same list with terror organizations like Boko Haram and ISIS recruiting cells. More so, what form of serious intelligence would declare Bokko Haram and ISIS as a security threat and leave out organizations that produce and breed the Boko Haram and ISIS. These terror groups are offshoot of the Wahhabi/Salafi organizations sponsored by Saudi Arabia like the Izala. They are known to have killed over 10,000 people in Nigeria including Shiites in the last few years.
More so in all their attacks on mosques it is clear that they have never bombed any Wahabi/Salafi Mosque before. All their attacks were centered on non-Wahhabi/Salafist and Shiites. The Maulud attack on the Tijjaniyya Sufi order in Kaduna where hundreds were killed, the attack on Friday mosque in Kano where hundreds were also killed, the attack on the Shia Arbaeen trek where tens were killed are all examples of Boko Haram attacks on Muslims but not on their Wahhabi/Salafi brothers.
Definitely this IFC intelligence report only raises suspicions because it looks as if those who prepared it were not actually basing it on practical facts and information but on certain sentiments and inclinations.
Everyone is aware that highly reputable Human Rights organizations like Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have indicted the Nigerian government of human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings and impunity. They have at various times condemned the use of excessive force by the Nigerian Army on unarmed civilians especially what they did on the IMN in Zaria in December 2015.
The Nigerian army during the attack displayed all forms or even worse of terrorism in the way it clampdown on innocent and unarmed IMN members using a flimsy pretext. Apart from being heavily armed, they were chanting anti-Shia slogans as if the army is a Sunni terror organization, they killed women and children in a fierce killing spree, they burned people alive both young and the aged, they demolished and bombed civilian enclaves with ease as there was no form of defense or retaliation whatsoever from their opponents who were unarmed for over 36 hours. All the opponents of the Army were doing during the attack was striving to dock and hide while those who surrendered from among them were simply shot dead. Afterwards they buried all their victims numbering over a thousand, both dead and living in secret mass graves.
This has attracted attention from a lot of humanitarian quarters across the globe with even the International Criminal Court (ICC) announcing its intention to run a preliminary investigation into what it sees as crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Nigerian government. Similarly, several reports have been presented on the same matter before the United Nations Human Rights Council by various concerned groups to which there was once a response by the Nigerian External Affairs Department seeking to deny the accusations. The Nigerian Government’s human rights records have woefully deteriorated since the inception of this regime.
More so, the government had identified itself with defiance to judgments and court orders by the judiciary. To even show that its defiance is based on impunity and disrespect to judiciary and not the claimed corruption in the judiciary, it even disobeyed orders from the ECOWAS Court.
Shamelessly, everybody has seen in the news how the Nigerian Army insulted the Amnesty International, how hoodlums were sponsored to attack the Abuja office of the Amnesty, how the government is joining other countries to accuse the ICC of bias against African countries and how the Nigerian government is violating the Nigerian Constitution and detaining innocent people incommunicado like the IMN leader Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky without any forms of charges or crimes.
It is against all these that the government seems to be establishing the IFC so as to have a point of ‘padding’ intelligence report. They could use the IFC to indict anybody at will or justify crimes committed by the state with the claims that they were intelligence reports.
The Zaria massacre for instance is seen as an act of state sponsored terrorism planned with the intention of killing the Shiite leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, banning Shiism and dispersing its members simply because the President and his men are all Sunni-Wahhabi inclined in religion. They unleashed terror on the IMN using state machinery because they are in power. This was even noticed by the High Court Judge, Justice Kolawole in his judgment for the release of the IMN leader from illegal detention, who described it as a Sunni majority in power suppressing a Shiite minority.
Judging by these facts the intelligence report by the IFC will fail any integrity test by declaring IMN as a security threat to Nigeria. It is simply seen to be providing defense frontiers for crimes committed against Nigerian citizens by the government and not intelligence report. All independent, diligent, reputable and highly respected organizations and groups have declared IMN as a peaceful and non-violent organization that has set a benchmark in seeking redress through most peaceful means even after being victims of terror attacks by the government.
If the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is a security threat to the nation the entire Zaria massacre story would be a different thing entirely. Everyone is watching how the Nigerian government is engaging on persistent come-kill-and-go operations on the IMN members killing them at will, demolishing their schools and centers, imprisoning their members on cropped up charges and yet they remained peaceful, focused and resolute.
Hence, the IMN is not a security threat to the Nigerian nation as wrongly depicted by the IFC report. It is simply a victim of terror and intimidation by some Wahhabi sectarian bigots using government machinery. The government has committed crimes against humanity in contravention of all known laws including the Rome Statute and the Geneva Convention. Some of those involved in perpetrating the crime and are potential candidates at The Hague are the ones using the IFC to justify their crimes and this as all the other lies, propaganda and blackmail will also not work. The IMN shall forever remain peaceful.