The Federal High Court, Abuja has fixed September 11th to hear a motion filed by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, popularly called Shi’ites, asking the court to vacate the ex parte order it gave on July 26th proscribing its activities in the country.
Justice Nkeonye Maha of Court adjourned the case after hearing the two counsels. The Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr Ayo Apata, SAN, had applied for more time. Counsel to the IMN, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, did not oppose the request either. The court had, upon an ex-parte motion by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation also declared the group a terrorist organisation.
The IMN, in a notice of motion filed, on August 2, by its lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, particularly sought the court to vacate the “ex-parte order made on July 26, in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/876/2019 between: AGF vs. IMN proscribing the existence and activities of the group in Nigeria under whatever form, either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called or referred to.”
The group also asked the court to set aside the order “restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the IMN, under any other name or platform howsoever called or described in any part of Nigeria.”
The IMN stated that the reasons for its requests include that “the ex-parte order made on July 26, was made without jurisdiction, as the order was made against a non-juristic body.
“This honourable court on July 26, pursuant to an ex parte application brought by the IMN made an order, inter alia, proscribing the existence and activities of the group in any part of Nigeria under whatever form, either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called or referred to without affording the Respondent/Applicant the right of fair hearing.
“The said order of the honourable court breached the fundamental right of all members of the IMN in Nigeria to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Laws of the Federation, 2004 in that no fair hearing was granted the applicant/respondent before the order was made.
“The order ex parte granted by this honourable court has violated the fundamental right of members of the Respondent to freedom of thought, conscience and religion guaranteed by Section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
“The order ex parte granted by this honourable court has breached the fundamental right of the members of the respondent to freedom of assembly and association guaranteed by Section of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended. The honourable court did not grant the declaration ‘that the activities of the IMN in any part of Nigeria amounts(sic) to acts of terrorism and illegality,”’ the group said.
According to IMN, there was no urgency warranting the granting of the order ex parte. “No motion-on-notice was filed together with the motion ex-parte. The ex-parte order made by the honourable court has determined the fundamental right of the respondent/applicant without affording it fair hearing. No undertaking was made as to damages. The order ex-parte was anchored on misrepresentation of material facts and based on suppression of material facts.
“The order ex parte constitutes a gross abuse of the process of this honourable court,” the group stated. The Federal Government had, July 29, published the order in its official gazette as directed by the court. It was described in the gazette as ”Government Notice No. 79,” titled: ”Terrorism (Prevention) Proscription Order Notice, 2019.”
Particularly, pages B597 to 602 of the document spelt out details of the enrolled order of the Federal High Court and the Federal Government’s warning against participating in any of the activities of IMN.
It reads, “Notice is hereby given that by the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in suit No. FHC/ABJ/Cs/876/2019 dated July 26, 2019 as per the schedule to this notice, the activities of IMN in Nigeria are declared to be terrorism and illegal in any part of Nigeria, as proscribed, pursuant to Sections 1 and 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended).
”Consequently, the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the said group will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended) and liable to prosecution”.