WHY IS GOV LALONG
PERSECUTING IMN MEMBERS IN PLATEAU?
By Ibrahim Musa
Despite detaining 44 members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) following Army’s attack on Ashura peaceful procession in Jos, Plateau state, Governor Lalong has ordered the arrest of 3 more members of IMN. They were detained at the force headquarters after lodging a complaint that they sited some items belonging to our Islamic center that were stolen being sold. The police immediately apprehended them, claiming they have been ordered to arrest leaders of the Ashura mourning procession.
More worrisome is the continued incarceration of 15 underage boys and girls in a police cell since their arrest, now in its third week. If their parents have commited what the state government termed as offence, what have these children done to warrant such a terrible violation of their rights?
Instead of the state Governor to address this glaring disregard to the rule of law that prohibits the detention of minors, in a press statement on Monday October, 24 he went on to assert that instead of denying the Shias their religious right, the state government is protecting them from their attackers. How can detaining 15 school going minors in a police cell be termed as “giving them protection”?
“The ban was also to protect the Shi’ite’ members; they were already open to risk with many of them physically attacked while their structures were being burnt and destroyed. Our prompt action was based on the situation at the time because as a government, we owe it a duty to protect the people, even from themselves,” the Governor said in his statement to the press.
I would like to believe that the Governor was misinformed of the gruesome arson and looting the soldiers perpetrated on that fateful Wednesday October 12. There are video clips of soldiers aiding and abetting miscreants in their wanton destruction of our Islamic Centre in Jos. What is expected of the Governor is to order the arrest of the soldiers and their collaborators in the molestation of our members and destruction of our properties. He however chooses to arrest the meek and defenseless in the society.
On the claim that IMN members had been denied their rights, the governor said, “The law is clear about that. Once your right jeopardizes other people’s rights, it can be tampered with. That is what we did,’’ he said. But the fact is none of our religious activities put other peoples right into jeopardy. Even the Wednesday’s procession would have ended peacefully were it not for the cover given to the hoodlums by the soldiers. Similar procession has been held in the state capital for years without any incident. This year’s own in neighboring states like Bauchi, Gombe, Nassarawa all ended peacefully because the security agent didn’t intervene.
The Governor will do himself good not to uphold the ban he placed on IMN in the name of security considerations. We have been conducting our religious activities in the state for close to three decades peacefully. Past governments have never accused us of breach of the law, we wonder why now. Those that the Governor listen to about us are the very hate mongers who have denied Plateau the peace it was known for some decades back. In the interest of justice to all, the Plateau state Governor should order the release of members of IMN, compensate them for the damaged properties and arrest of our attackers.