The Islamic Movement in Nigeria has faulted its proscription on the basis that it was not approved by President Muhammadu Buhari as required by law.
The group, popularly known as Shiites, and led by Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, said Justice Nkeonye Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja, in issuing the proscription order on July 26, 2019, relied on a memo by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, claiming to have conveyed the presidential approval for the proscription application to the National Security Adviser, Babagana Mogunno.
The IMN’s legal team led by Femi Falana (SAN), also referred to a recently leaked memo addressed to the service chiefs, in which the author, Mogunno, accused Kyari of usurping presidential powers regarding matters, particularly relating to security.
The group also claimed neither Kyari’s memo nor a letter by Mogunno, dated July 23, 2019, requesting Buhari’s approval for the IMN’s proscription was exhibited in court.
These are contained in Shiites’ reply on points of law filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja in support of their suit challenging the court order proscribing and designating them as a terrorist group.
But the Federal Government in its documents filed at the court insisted that the proscription followed the law.
In the reply filed on February 28, Falana argued that Section 2(1)(c) of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013 categorically provided that “it is the approval of the President that must be sought and obtained and not that of any Chief of Staff to the President”.
The group argued that its claim in its application for the reversal of the ban that the necessary presidential approval not obtained was not debunked by Federal Government.
“Aside from the furious ruse made by the applicant/respondent at paragraph 4.21 – 4.23 of the counter-affidavit, the material allegation raised by the respondent/applicant (IMN) that the approval of the President was never sought and obtained and properly exhibited as required by the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 was never disproved and controverted by the application,” Falana argued.
He also said, “The Chief of Staff, Mr Abba Kyari, however powerful, is not the President and assuming without conceding that the NSA sought his consent and approval to proscribe the respondent/applicant herein, any approval so sought and obtained is null and void for failing to conform to a statutory stipulation.”
The group also made reference to Monguno’s memo to the service chiefs to corroborate its point that Kyari had no constitutional role and that his memo said to have conveyed Buhari’s approval was a nullity.
Their lawyers said, “Particularly, where the very state official coordinating and supervising all the security apparatus in the country has accused the same Chief Staff (a merely itinerary employee of the President who has no constitutional role whatsoever of usurping the powers of the President, undermining security apparatus, allegations that borders on treason and flagrant desecration of the constitution.”
The group also said Kyari and Moguno’s memos categorised as Exhibit FGN 10, “was referred to in an affidavit” but “was not attached to the said affidavit” therefore “cannot be said to be part of the proceedings so as to be acted upon.”