Lawmakers warn government that it risks turning Shiite movement into another Boko Haram

PARLIAMENTARIANS have warned the federal government that it risks turning the Shiite sect the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) into another terrorist group like Boko Haram with the way it is being treated.


Over the last week, the IMN has intensified its protests in Abuja, demanding the release of its leader Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been in detention since December 2015. Today, the Shiites are holding another rally in Abuja and as usual, they are involved in bitter clashes with the security forces.


Debating the issue yesterday, the House of Representatives called on the federal government to hold talks with the IMN to resolve their grievances. Lawmakers warned that the Shiites were becoming a security threat like Boko Haram, who began their campaign against the Nigerian state in 2009 when the police shot several of their members.


Senators have already condemned the attack by Shiites on the National Assembly yesterday and asked the police to secure the building. Members of the House of Representatives, warned that another insurgent group was emerging, given the spate of violent clashes between IMN and the police.


Some of the lawmakers said that the federal government had ignored orders by various courts asking the Department of State Services to release Sheikh el-Zakzaky. While debating a motion moved by the House of Representatives minority leader Hon Ndidi Elumelu, the lawmakers unanimously a motion said the internal security of the National Assembly should be assessed and adequate measures employed to investigate against further occurrences.


Hon Elumelu's motion also stated that the government should as a matter of urgency engage this Shiite group so as to amicably resolve whatever is their grievances. Seconding the motion, Hon Nicholas Ossai recalled that the chamber had passed a resolution in the Eighth National Assembly to allow sergeants-at-arms to bear arms and that the leadership of the National Assembly liaise with the executive on the issue.


Hon Mohammed Monguno, added: “I am contributing to this motion as it affects the polity generally because of my experience in the emergence of Boko Haram. There are danger signals coming from the dreaded gang called Shiites, going about clamouring for the freedom of their leader.


“Those of us from Borno State, the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, are deeply informed that Boko Haram started the same way the Shiites sect is now masquerading themselves in the name of fighting for the freedom of their leader before it finally became a full-blown crisis that can consume the whole country. So, there is the need for the relevant agencies in the executive arm of government and this National Assembly to nip this crisis in the bud so that it will not develop into a full-blown security crisis that is going to affect the whole country.”


Inspector-general of police Mohammed Adamu, warned the IMN against fomenting a crisis, noting that the force was ready to combat their violent activities. He issued the warning yesterday when he visited policemen who were injured during the clash with the IMN.