The International Centre for Justice (ICJ) (Africa Regional Affairs) has condemned the murder of Precious Owolabi, a members of the National Youth Service Corps attached to Channels TV, during a clash between security personnel and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on Monday in Abuja.
The group also condemned in its totality the growing spate of sectarian extremism across the world and particularly in Nigeria where the IMN group now targets security agencies that have the responsibility of stopping its members from spreading chaos in that country.
Mark Omita, Vice President (Africa Affairs) of the group in a statement issued in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, equally condemned persons, groups or nations that promote IMN’s brand of terrorism through the support being extended to the group in violation of Nigeria’s sovereignty.
ICJ also advised the Federal Government of Nigeria to promptly withdraw the “directive not to engage” given to law enforcement agencies in order for them to be able to deploy legitimate force in dealing with IMN attacks.
Full text of the statement below.
The International Centre for Justice (ICJ) has been updated on another incident in Nigeria in which sectarian Shiite members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) on Monday July 22, 2019 attempted to repeat an invasion of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Members of the IMN were reported to have attacked other locations in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja when they were unable to overrun the parliament in line with their original plan. The arson, destruction of government vehicles and those of the civilian population in Monday’s attack is noted.
This latest attack adds a new layer of concern to the apprehension previously expressed about the worsening activities of IMN in Nigeria, which had accused the Islamic Republic of Iran of sponsoring the group’s activities. Particular attention is paid to the escalation of IMN aggression in Nigeria and a corresponding aggression from Iran against countries that are working to hold it to account for illegally developing nuclear weapons.
The activities of IMN, whether freely of the volition of its members or tele-guided by Iran, is a danger to Africa’s most populous nation and the West-African sub-region, which is already fragile as country governments strive to get rid of terrorist groups operating around the Lake Chad Basin and Northern Mali. The region and the world in general does not the need another terror group to add to the list of those that must be hunted down for other citizens to be safe.
ICJ consequently condemn in its totality the growing spate of sectarian extremism across the world and particularly in Nigeria where the IMN group now targets security agencies that have the responsibility of stopping its members from spreading chaos in that country. Our initial inquiry confirmed that law enforcement officers are unable to robustly respond to the threats posed by IMN members because of a “directive not to engage,” a loophole that the extremists now exploit to oppress other citizens.
It is worrisome that IMN has reportedly used the period that this directive subsists to graduate into using dangerous weapons, ammunitions and explosives on public buildings, against security operatives and for destroying the properties of innocent citizens. This has effectively moved IMN from the band of an organization protesting for rights restoration to one that can officially be designated a terrorist group, and to the extent that it receives resources from Iran across borders it qualifies as an international terrorist organization.
We equally condemn persons, groups or nations that promote IMN’s brand of terrorism through the support being extended to the group in violation of Nigeria’s sovereignty. We advise such entities to cease and desist all acts that undermine the sovereignty of Nigeria or threaten the safety of its citizens. A continuation of such support for IMN should be counted as a crime against humanity and eligible to be subjected to the relevant international instrument.
Irrespective of the support IMN is getting as identified, the duty of safeguarding the life and property of citizens falls on government and the authorities in Nigeria cannot abdicate this responsibility on the excuse or pretext of complying with international protocols. The life of a law-abiding citizen is no less in value to that of someone that elected to become a terrorist. The government of the Federal Government of Nigeria must therefore do all that is necessary to protect its population, including those working in law enforcement, from IMN attacks.
ICJ strongly advises the Federal Government of Nigeria to promptly withdraw the “directive not to engage” given to law enforcement agencies in order for them to be able to deploy legitimate force in dealing with IMN attacks. Security personnel should be allowed to respond to threats as firmly as required and quickly too. A key message the government should be sending to IMN and other groups that may have plans of embracing its brand of violence is that the state’s monopoly of violence exists to safeguard civilian population from violence.