By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria court case challenging the banning order by Federal Government of Nigeria is coming up on March 10, 2021 for hearing at Court 5 of Justice I. E. Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja.
This was made known to our reporter by one of the Islamic Movement lawyers, Barrister Abubakar Marshall from Femi Falana SAN Chambers.
According to Barrister Marshall, the sweeping court ruling against the Movement threatens the basic human rights of all Nigerians, “The government should seek to reverse the ban, which prohibits the religious group’s members from exercising their right to meet and carry out peaceful activities. And I want to draw the attention of the Media Houses to desist from describing the Islamic Movement as banned Group.
“The Islamic Movement is challenging the banning in a Court of Law, so don’t address the Movement as a banned Group.”
If it can be recalled, in its July 26, 2019 ruling, the court directed the government to publish the proscription order in the official Gazette and two national dailies after Nigeria’s solicitor general had brought a motion called an ex parte application before the court, seeking to have the group declared a terrorist organization and banned.
However the group’s representatives were not given an opportunity to participate in the hearing, as such an application is intended for emergency proceedings that do not require the opposing party to respond or be present.
But the Nigerian constitution and international human rights law guarantee the rights to freedom of religion, association and expression. Under international law, no restrictions may be placed on these rights unless provided by law, serve a legitimate government purpose in a democratic society, and are necessary for attaining that purpose.
“Allegations of criminality do not present legitimate grounds to ban the activities of a religious group, including protests for justice and the release of their leader,” Marshal said.
“The ban on the Movement endanger an even worse security force crackdown on the group, and since the ban many Shiites have been complained of arbitrary arrests, distructions of properties and general harassment all in the name of Court order.” he said.