The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) yesterday issued a statement cautioning the government of Kaduna State on the issue of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN, also known as Shiites). This was in reaction to a statement credited to the Kaduna State Government in which it declared the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) an insurgent group.
Well-meaning Nigerians, particularly from the North where the impact of the group has been felt most, have sincerely intervened and thrown more light on the activities and status of the IMN. Fresh information has revealed IMN’s attack on the Emir of Zaria, its alleged involvement in the assassination of some Muslim clerics, its lack of respect for constituted authority, its posturing as a government within a government, its alleged possession of arms, etc.
In the face of these fresh facts, we are obliged to incorporate the opinions of our members who are up-North. This is necessary in order to carry them along. Who feels it knows it. Those who live very close to the IMN must know IMN better.
Even while we are not holding brief for the authors of the allegations, MURIC wishes to state clearly, categorically and unequivocally that at no point in time had we been pro-Shiite. Neither do we share any doctrinal identity with IMN. Our interest lies in the maintenance of peace in the Nigerian society and the need to avoid creating another monster like Boko Haram.
MURIC is as worried as every other Islamic organization about the doctrinal differences and heretic inclinations of Shiism. But sectarian differences are not limited to Islam. Above all, we are gravely concerned about the self-imposed isolationist disposition of IMN in relation with mainstream Islam in Nigeria. We are equally nonplussed by the group’s refusal to recognize officially installed leaders. These are big and questionable minuses for IMN.
In the light of the above, we affirm that MURIC remains committed to the goals and aspirations of mainstream Islamdom which has been pursuing peaceful coexistence, neighbourliness, tolerance, love, forgiveness and, above all, sacrifice for our great country, Nigeria under the umbrella of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). We advise IMN to retrace its footsteps in character and doctrine. In particular, IMN needs better image laundering in Kaduna State and the North in general.
Nonetheless, we stand by our word of caution. Everything possible must be done to avoid turning IMN into another terror machine. What we need in Nigeria to get out of the current recession is peace. We also need peace for economic growth and political stability. We cannot afford another Boko Haram.
As we round up, we appeal to Governor El-Rufai to ignore IMN’s unnecessary verbal war against his administration, avoid further bloody crackdown on the group and concentrate on the good work he has been doing in governance. We call on the Federal Government to investigate the serious allegation of possession of arms leveled against IMN. This will rest the controversy surrounding the labeling of IMN as an insurgent group once and for all.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)