The Federal Government on Wednesday accused Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), of being sponsored by Iran to replicate in Nigeria, the 1979 violent revolution that led to the forcible takeover of power in that country.
In a fresh process it filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja, the Federal Government stressed that currently, members of the IMN, do not recognise President Muhammadu Buhari’s authority.
It argued that the plan of the IMN leader and his sponsor was to forcibly turn the country into an Islamic state.
The federal government urged the court to dismiss the suit the IMN filed to challenge the order that proscribed its activities in Nigeria.
The court had, on July 26, upon an ex-parte motion filed by the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), declared IMN a terrorist group and proscribed it, a decision the group has challenged.
In the document, the Federal Government accused the group of being behind the death of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, in charge of Operations at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command and many others killed ruling the violent protest by its members on July 22, 2019.
It argued that the court acted within the confine of the relevant laws in granting the proscription order and urged it to disregard the group’s request the proscription order be set aside.
The government told the court that the relationship between El-Zakzaky and Iran started shortly after the 1979 revolution that toppled a sitting government.
It said El-Zakzaky, who was a Shia activist in the university, was “heavily influenced” by the Iranian revolution, and had since galvanised his followers and brainwashed them to unleash mayhem against the Nigerian state and its citizens.
Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of Operation, FCT Command, Enyinnaya Adiogu, told the court that he had the consent of the Attorney General of the Federation, the National Security Adviser, and the Inspector General of Police, to depose to the 56-paragraph counter affidavit.
DCP Adiogu said: “That from history and facts available, the Movement Called Islamic Movement of Nigeria founded by El-Zakzaky has its sole aim of creating an Islamic State.
“That Sheik El-Zakzaky was heavily influenced by the Iranian revolution, which saw Ayatollah Khomeini take power in 1979 after the overthrow of the Shah in a popular uprising.
“Khomeini remains the Islamic Movement in Nigeria’s main inspiration.
“That members of IMN First pledge allegiance to Khomeini at their gatherings and then to their local leader, Sheikh Zakzaky.
“The IMN views itself as a government, and Sheikh Zakzaky as the only legitimate source of authority in Nigeria and it does not recognise the authority of the Nigerian government, and views its leaders both Muslims and Christians as corrupt and ungodly.
“That the Islamic Movement in Nigeria began with a Shia Muslim university activist, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who became so impressed with the 1979 revolution in Iran that he wanted one at home (Nigeria).
“Later, El-Zakzaky went to Iran, ultimately becoming a Shia cleric.
“That at his return home, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky formed the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and turned it into a vehicle for proselytising and gaining followers in 1990s.
“That till date, Sheikh El-Zakzaky enjoys the support of Iran in all the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, including the agenda to make Nigeria an Islamic State.
“That as a result of El-zakzaky Movement’s activities, many Muslim youths have converted to Shia-Islam of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.
“That the main aim of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is to propagate the ideology in Iran and turn the Country (Nigeria) into an Islamic State as was done in the Iranian Revolution of 1979.”
The Federal Government faulted the argument by the IMN that the proscription order amounted to a violation of the right to practice their religion and to associate.
It argued that “members of the respondent (IMN) are not prohibited from being Muslims, practicing Islamic religion and being members of the Shiites (Shia) group of the Islamic Sect.
Lawyer to the IMN, Femi Falana (SAN) did not object, following which Justice Evelyn Maha adjourned until September 11 for hearing.