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National Assembly vows to protect Nigeria from external interference


The leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria otherwise known as Shi''te, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky

The leader of Islamic Movement of Nigeria otherwise known as Shi”te, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky

Rights group seeks immediate release of El-Zakzaky

The National Assembly has vowed to defend Nigeria’s sovereignty and interest. The assurance folows concerns by civil society organisations (CSOs) over what they described as “undue interference” by the Republic of Iran in the country’s internal affairs.

The Ogenyi Okpokwu Emmanuel-led Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative and other CSOs had yesterday marched on the National Assembly to protest against alleged radicalisation of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) members by Iran. They were received by chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream and representative of Bayelsa Central, Emmanuel Paulker and Yusuf Abubakar (Taraba Central, APC).

Paulker reminded the protesters that Nigeria remains a secular and as such, nobody could impose his/her religion on others. He assured that the federal lawmakers would urgently address the issue.

“We will protect Nigerians against any foreigner that will come under any guise to destabilise this country. We have taken notice of what you have stated. In fact, the Senate President specifically asked me and my colleague to come out here and address this issue. So we will go back to the Senate and look at it intensively,” he promised.

Meanwhile, a group, Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy (CEDRA), has called for the immediate release of the spiritual leader of IMN, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and protection of worship rights of its members.

CEDRA’s chairman, Dr. John Dan-Fulani, who spoke on the state of the nation in Lagos, decried the continued detention of the Shiite leader without alleged concrete move to try him in a competent court of law, a development which he contended, compromised his fundamental human rights and breached some provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“We believe he (El-Zakzaky) should be immediately set free to enable him seek medical treatment and enjoy his liberty as a human being,” he appealed.

Dan-Fulani urged the media and the international community to take a tour of Zaria, Kaduna State and witness the processions of the Shiites and evaluate first-hand if they were violent as being reported in certain quarters.

He enjoined the Federal Government to accord members of the movement their unfettered rights to worship as guaranteed by the nation’s law books.

He alleged lopsidedness in the constitution of the judicial commission of inquiry by the Kaduna State government to probe the activities of the Shiites without including their representative.

Dan-Fulani feared that mishandling of the matter could boomerang, saying the Boko Haram sect resurged following the extra-judicial execution of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, in 2007 by the authorities.

Earlier, the movement’s coordinator for South West, Alhaji Muftau Zakari, noted that rule of law and justice were sine qua non to the corporate existence of any nation. He claimed that Nigerian leaders were not doing enough to promote the unity of the country.

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