The National Democratic Forum, NDF, has in strong terms condemned the
invasion of the National Assembly by members of the Islamic Movement in
Nigeria, IMN, otherwise known as Shiites, on Tuesday.

NDF described the attack on security agencies as an attempt to overthrow an arm of government.

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DAILY
POST recalls that some protesting Shiites members agitating against the
continuous incarceration of their leader, Sheik El-Zakyazky on Tuesday
clashed with the security agencies, resulting in the death of some
persons and burning of vehicles.

The protesters, who were in
large numbers, were heading towards the National Assembly at about
1.15pm but were intercepted by the military personnel already waiting at
the gate.

Reacting to the development, NDF wondered why the authorities have continued to threat the issue of the IMN with kids’ gloves.

Addressing
a press conference on Tuesday, shortly after the bloody clash, Dr
Abdulakdir Bolaji, Secretary General of NDF, called on the authorities
to immediately expel all known IMN members from Abuja.

The group
also demanded that all those arrested in connection with the attack on
National Assembly must be arraigned for treason and attempt to overthrow
the government.

The statement reads in full:

Tuesday
July 9, 2019 was the day members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria
(IMN) terrorised the very symbol of our democracy by launching
coordinated attacks on the National Assembly. At the end of the attacks,
the IMN members had snatched weapons from the security personnel on
duty with which they shot two policemen and an officer of the Nigerian
Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). At least three cars were
destroyed while a security post was also vandalized. We are in the
process of verifying if anyone died in the attack as reported by some
media organizations.

For the duration of the attacks, Nigerians
in the National Assembly Complex were terrorised on a scale comparable
to last year’s terror attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul,
Afghanistan; the attacks carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic
terrorist organisation based in Pakistan on Taj Mahal Palace Hotel,
Mumbai –India in 2018; and the terror attack of two months ago on Pearl
Continental Hotel, Gwadar – Pakistan. The attacks on the National
Assembly bear a frightening similarity to these other coordinated terror
attacks because of the sheer helplessness that the occupants of these
buildings experience for the duration of the barbarity.

Even at
height of their madness, Boko Haram never sent their terrorists to
attack the National Assembly because they know the implication of such.
They are aware that attacking the National Assembly is to add the crime
of treason to whatever other criminality they may already be guilty of.
The rap sheet for IMN is therefore growing longer with illegal arms
possession, operating as an outlawed group, acquiring military training
in violation of the constitution, murder, attempted murder and now
treason with attempt to overthrow Nigeria’s democracy.

Permit us
to mention that we know the Nigerian state is not helpless as some
people will think. Without prejudice to whatever investigations will
unveil, we believe that the snatching of the weapons from the security
operatives was possible because of the directive that security agencies
should exercise restraint in the face of IMN extremists. This approach
to dealing with the threat posed by the outlawed group has proven to be a
wrong call, one that must be immediately jettisoned by the state.

The
National Assembly is the highest symbol of Nigeria’s democracy. Whilst
IMN was once seen as the problem of Zaria, Kaduna State and Abuja, the
Federal Capital territory, by attacking the National Assembly, they have
made themselves the problem of all Nigerians because each and every one
of us has a representative in the national parliament. The attack is
therefore an attack on every state of Nigeria, on every citizen and on
everything we stand for as a nation. The action of the IMN is therefore a
visitation of terror on the Nigerian state. It is an attack targeted at
overthrowing the government by destroying the strongest institution in
our democracy.

We will like to point out that we had joined other
Nigerians in the past to express reservations about the presence of IMN
extremists in the nation’s capital. They hide under the pretext that
they are demanding for the release of their leader, Mr Ibraheem
ElZakyzaky, who is standing trial before a competent court.
Unfortunately, possibly because of the fear of international backlash,
the government allowed these extremists to continue to infiltrate the
nation’s capital without evicting them.

The concerns we had
expressed about the group in the past were because of their violent
activities and attacks against state institutions and unwarranted
clashes with security operatives. We must not lose sight of the fact
that in their bid to acquire more weapons, the IMN fighters attempted to
hijack a military convoy that was conveying weapons along the
Zuba-Kaduna Expressway, a development that they used to bring the City
under siege.

The situation is dire to the point where even
residents of Abuja had expressed concerns about the activities of this
outlawed group owing to the threat they pose to other Nigerians. This
threat is in addition to their menacing protests that they use to deny
other people unhindered use of the roads and causing traffic congestion.
Our
demand to the Federal Government, in the light of Tuesday’s
desecration, is unequivocal. A strong and clear message must be sent to
the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in a way that it reverberates even with
their sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has recently been
issuing propaganda to support these terrorists. The message must make it
known that no theocratic entity will be allowed to overthrow Nigeria’s
democracy, directly or through proxies like IMN.

We, therefore,
demand that the Federal Government immediately expel all known IMN
members from Abuja while law enforcement agencies are mandated to
dismantle all known cells of the group, in the nation’s capital and
across the country.

A further demand is that all those arrested
in the attack on National Assembly must be arraigned for treason and
attempt to overthrow the government. In this case, the government must
not cave in to the blackmail of pro-IMN countries and organizations that
will wrongly accuse it of rights abuse.

The government must also
rise up to the occasion and formally designate IMN as a terrorist group
in line with existing anti-terrorism legislation. Had the Federal
Government towed the line of the Kaduna state government that outlawed
this terrorist group perhaps the country would have been saved from the
harrowing experience of having the parliament come under attack.

It
is our earnest hope that the government will not allow things to
degenerate to the point where Nigerians are compelled to resort to
self-help against IMN extremists as the situation is fast approaching
the one of “kill or be killed”. Nigerians will not watch docilely while
terrorists overrun their capital and attack their representatives. We
expect to see actions on the part of the government in the days ahead as
a way of reassuring us that terrorists will not be allowed to truncate
our democracy.

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