Chris Steven, Abuja
The National Assembly has vowed to defend Nigeria’s sovereignty and interest against foreign interference.
This is coming against the background of concerns expressed by the Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative and other Civil Society and Human rights organizations on what they described as undue interference by the republic of Iran in Nigeria’s internal affairs.
The lawmakers gave the assurance when they received members of the Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative and other CSOs who took a protest march to the National Assembly.
The protesters who were received by Sen. Emmanuel Paulker, (Bayelsa central and Chairman Senate committee on Petroleum, Upstream PDP) and Sen. Yusuf Abubakar, (Taraba Central APC) expressed concern over the radicalization of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) members by Iran.
Addressing the protesters, Sen. Paulker said Nigeria is a secular state and nobody would be allowed to impose his religion on others assuring that the National Assembly would move fast to quickly address the issue.
He said, “we will protect Nigerians against any foreigner that will come under any guise to destabilize 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”
Speaking earlier, National Coordinator of the Governance and Change Initiative, Ogenyi Okpokwu Emmanuel urged both chambers of the National Assembly pass resolutions asking the Federal Government to outlaw the IMN nationwide.
Emmanuel expressed worry that Nigeria is under threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is flooding the country with the terrorists it has trained and empowered under the cover of being Shia sect members.
He said, “These Iranian representatives in the country operate under the name of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which has disavowed the secular state prescribed in the constitution. IMN has emphatically declared that it does not recognize the Federal Government of which the National Assembly is the third arm of government.”
It would be recalled that recently, IMN members clashed with the Police in Kano leading to several deaths.
Emmanuel drew the attention of the lawmakers to online video of IMN members performing military drills and practicing combat skills, warning that what the country is dealing with is not just a band of adherents but several cells of heavily radicalized youths that have been convinced to see suicide attacks as the path to martyrdom.
He said the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government in the aftermath of last year’s clash between the IMN and the military offered great insight into the true identity of the extremist group.
According to him, during the commission’s public hearing Nigerians recounted how they experienced the horrors dispensed by the IMN in Zaria, Kaduna state which was its enclave.
The CSO leader said the findings of the commission provoked the outlawing of IMN by Kaduna state government, but said sadly, instead of waking the sect up to the rejection of its extreme views, its members have rather scattered farther afield to other state in what some expert see as preemptively activating a domination agenda that is not different from the approach adopted by the world’s worst terrorist group, Boko Haram.
He said, “There is need for Nigeria to act fast. The National Assembly must activate what is an equivalent of the doctrine of necessity. It will take time for all the remaining thirty five states and the FCT to outlaw this extremist group but the National Assembly can save the country.
“It is on this note that we are demanding that both chambers of the National Assembly pass resolutions asking the Federal Government to outlaw the IMN nationwide. Our Federal lawmakers must also demand the severance of diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran for exporting terrorism into our country, for radicalising our youths, for flooding our land with weapons, for intruding into our national affairs and threatening our sovereignty and for being a threat to our nationhood.
“The country must also close its diplomatic mission here while Nigeria closes ours in Tehran. As practical step, the Senate should not confirm any ambassadorial nominee for that country while exercising the budget for Nigeria’s embassy there.
“We will observe in the coming days to see what actions the National Assembly will take on our demands. Once we see our federal lawmakers commence work in earnest to address this IMN threat to our collective safety, we shall support in any way possible.”
Ogenyi said the CSOs will hold daily protests at the premises of the National Assembly if it fails to act fast and do the needful.
He however expressed confidence that the “National Assembly will act in the interest of their constituents who do not want to be wiped out by IMN fanatics.”