IMN: Between Civil Disobedience and Terrorism By Philip Agbese

In a world that has become global, replication of what has worked in other countries is expected. Civil disobedience has been used by some countries with appreciable results. There are examples to cite: Arab Spring, Orange Protest, Yellow Vests Protest and the ongoing Hong Kong protests.

But protests are not for terrorists. Global best practice is for protestors to act within limits dictated by the law of the land. Violence taints protests, removes legitimacy from the cause of protestors that rely on violence. Shedding blood in pursuit of any goal sours the end product. Purveyors of the Arab Spring can attest to this much; in countries where they used violence, peace has taken flight. Find out from Libya. It is a scenario that some embittered politicians are keen to replicate in Nigeria. They have been shopping for terrorists to blow up the country.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, is unaware of these dynamics. At the very least it is aware about them but is pretending that they do not exist. IMN never had a basis to protest. It has now worsened its lack of a basis by shedding blood when it invaded the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The blood on the hands of the brainwashed fighters of IMN is thick because it is the blood of policemen. The blood sticks fast to their hands because it was guns they shot at the policemen, when IMN had always claimed to have no weapon.

IMN fighters hurt even the populace that was once sympathetic. They stoned hapless Nigerians that were caught in the crossfire of the attack on policemen. Scores of cars were either torched or vandalized. If IMN claimed self defence in attacking the policemen what will it claim for harming innocent civilians? The Shia fanatics attacked people because their objective at the National Assembly was to cause terror.

Unleashing violence is not new to this group. It has a long history of violence that earned it a ban in Kaduna state. Its members once killed a soldier for which they are still standing trial. They invaded Abuja and attempted to steal weapons from a military convoy in transit. They committed arson all over the city while putting its resident through hell by obstructing free flow of traffic. Add these to the invasion of the National Assembly and it is obvious this is no agitation. It is a posse of sectarian terrorists.

IMN counsel, Chief Femi Falana has confirmed that much. He warned the government against provoking an insurgency when his clients have already started one. A statement he officially issued said “This nation cannot afford another war of insurgency which is being provoked by the contemptuous conduct of the federal government in the handling of the case of the El-Zakzaky.”
Anyone that has doubt should by now realize that IMN is bent on escalating its protests to full terrorist attacks. Falana, their lawyer’s statement is a confirmation. Several IMN spokespersons have threatened insurgency as well. They make it sound like threats made in desperation but it is something they have prepared for.

It is sad that the lawmakers are taken in. They see helpless protestors in IMN fighters when terrorists are at their own very gates. But it is now proven that the resolution of the House was sold and purchased at the behest of the political opposition. Someone must educate our lawmakers that the differences between protestors and terrorists are as clear as the incompatibility of night and day. Terrorists attack the state, its agencies and organization while seeing civilians as fair game should they be caught in their attacks; terrorists make unrealistic demands like asking for a man standing trial for treason and murder to be freed without a verdict being reached by the bench. Protestors remain civil even in the face of extreme provocation, which IMN cannot lay claim to; protestors stick to realistic demands.

Those propping up IMN must thus desist. The invasion of the National Assembly, the shooting of policemen, the industrial scale arson against Nigerians should perturb even the most unrepentant of IMN sponsors. It happened before when Boko Haram terrorists turned upon their sponsors. It is a matter of time before IMN consumes those that are aiding and abetting it today. IMN may be the desirous bride of the opposition right now but when it bares its fangs as a terror group it will poison even its sponsors. The monster has already been created. Bad. The only good news is that the IMN genie is still in the bottle. That is if the opposition and poorly informed lawmakers will leave it right there in the bottle.

The situation calls for realistic approach to curbing IMN’s rise into an insurgent group. This is not the time for the kind of do-gooder pontificating that is making the round. Those seeking to be perceived as politically correct have no business here. The danger posed to Nigeria by this group negates any political capital to be made from promoting them. When the IMN storm that is being brewed makes landfall there will be no People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Igbo or Yoruba. It will be IMN terrorist group and its victims.

Agbese is a researcher in human rights laws and wrote from Middlesex University London.

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