The Presidency has swiftly corrected the wrong impression created by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) over alleged complete ban of the shi’ites group to be mischievous and blatant lies. In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to President Buhari Garba Shehu said, position of FG on the activities of some members of the who have been hijack by terrorist has nothing to do with banning the larger numbers of peaceful and law-abiding Shi’ites in the country from practicing their religion. Instead, it was to discourage wanton violence, murder and willful destruction of public and private property.
The Presidency explains that contrary to the claim by IMN that it had been banned from practicing its religion, President Buhari’s administration has not banned Shi’ites from observing their five daily prayers and going to Mecca to perform the Holy pilgrimage.
“Their position is blatantly false and deceptive,” Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media to President Buhari, said in a statement on Sunday.
According to him, the IMN is deliberately changing the narrative in order to gain sympathy and divert the attention of the world from its terrorist activities, including attacking soldiers, killing policemen and a youth corps member, destroying government ambulances and public property, consistently defying the authority of the state.
The statement adds that the banned organization was taken over by extremists who didn’t believe in peaceful protests, but instead employed violence and arson, driving fear and undermining the rights of others and constituted authority.
The Presidency says it agrees that the constitution protects freedom of worship, but not to the detriment of the society, especially where such freedom harms others, and breaks law and order.
The government insists that such criminal behavior and disregard for rights of others and human life will not be tolerated by any responsible administration, explaining that everywhere in the world protesters operate within legal boundaries and conduct themselves peacefully without molesting others, or engaging in murder and killing of security personnel or destroying public and private property.
Garba Shehu’s communiqué further states that the Presidency regrets that despite all efforts by the government and other well-meaning Nigerians to make the IMN militants to see reason and abandon violence, such appeals fell on deaf ears as they killed, maimed and destroyed willfully, constituting a daily nuisance to workers, commuters and other innocent citizens.
The statement adds that having defied appeals to operate peacefully, and given their seeming determination to destabilize the country, the government had to act before the situation goes out of control, after admonishing many times over that people should not use religion to perpetuate lawlessness.
“We are fighting lawlessness and criminality and not pursuing a policy of discrimination against any group.
“You cannot be in court while at the same time engaging in violent protests, molesting people and inflicting pains on others, which includes taking innocent lives,” the Presidency stressed