The leadership of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) also known as Shiites, has challenged its proscription by the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, saying the action was done without respecting the laws of the land.
Shiites said the ban placed on the group could not stand because it wasn’t approved President Muhammadu Buhari, as required by law.
The group being led by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky currently being held by state authorities, faulted Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja, for issuing the proscription order on July 26, 2019, having relied on a memo by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, claiming to have conveyed the presidential approval for the proscription application to the National Security Adviser, Babagana Mogunno.
Mr Femi Falana (SAN), leader of IMN’s legal team, justified the claim, referring to a recently leaked memo addressed to the service chiefs, in which the author, Mogunno, accused Kyari of usurping presidential powers regarding matters, particularly relating to security.
Shiites also claimed neither Kyari’s memo nor a letter by Mogunno, dated July 23, 2019, requesting Buhari’s approval for the IMN’s proscription was exhibited in court.
The group had made its claim known in its reply on points of law filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja in support of their suit challenging the court order proscribing and designating them as a terrorist group.
However, the Federal Government in its documents filed at the court insisted that the proscription followed the law.
Falana, in the reply filed on February 28, argued that Section 2(1)(c) of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013 categorically provided that “it is the approval of the President that must be sought and obtained and not that of any Chief of Staff to the President”.
The group argued that its claim in its application for the reversal of the ban that the necessary presidential approval not obtained was not debunked by Federal Government.
“Aside from the furious ruse made by the applicant/respondent at paragraph 4.21 – 4.23 of the counter-affidavit, the material allegation raised by the respondent/applicant (IMN) that the approval of the President was never sought and obtained and properly exhibited as required by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 was never disproved and controverted by the application.
“The Chief of Staff, Mr Abba Kyari, however powerful, is not the President and assuming without conceding that the NSA sought his consent and approval to proscribe the respondent/applicant herein, any approval so sought and obtained is null and void for failing to conform to a statutory stipulation,” Falana stated
The group also made reference to Monguno’s memo to the service chiefs to corroborate its point that Kyari had no constitutional role and that his memo said to have conveyed Buhari’s approval was a nullity.
“Particularly, where the very state official coordinating and supervising all the security apparatus in the country has accused the same Chief Staff (a merely itinerary employee of the President who has no constitutional role whatsoever of usurping the powers of the President, undermining security apparatus, allegations that borders on treason and flagrant desecration of the constitution,” Shiites lawyers said.
On the Kyari and Moguno’s memos categorised as Exhibit FGN 10, the group said “was referred to in an affidavit” but “was not attached to the said affidavit” therefore “cannot be said to be part of the proceedings so as to be acted upon.”