On Sunday, July 28, the government issued a ban on the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) group following violent protests, which took place in the capital Abuja, to demand the immediate release of the group's leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. The decision follows a court order issued on Saturday, July 27, labelling the group a terrorist organisation. The group may appeal the ruling. The Federal Government claimed that the ban is not to prevent the group from practicing their religion or other activities, rather to prevent violence. However, the ban will likely have little or no effect on the IMN's protests as the group will likely continue violent protests despite the ban.
A court in Kaduna is set to rule on the el-Zakzaky bail application on Monday, July 29. Related protests are possible in Kaduna.
A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected in Kaduna over the coming hours. Additional clashes between protesters and security forces are possible.
IMN leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, a prominent Shi'a cleric, was arrested in December 2015 when soldiers raided his home in Zaria (Kaduna state), killing a number of IMN followers in the process. The Nigerian Federal High Court ordered Zakzaky's release in December 2016, but he has remained in detention.
IMN protests occur on a regular basis, especially in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano states, despite a ban on the group's activities. Violent protests broke out in Abuja on October 29-30, 2018, with IMN supporters demanding the release of Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. During the protests, several IMN supported were reportedly killed, with at least 400 others arrested by security forces. On July 9, at least two police officers were wounded by protesters who unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the National Assembly building in Abuja. A related protest and associated clashes left at least 11 dead in Abuja on July 22, according to IMN leader Abdulhamid Bello.
Individuals in Kaduna and Abuja are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
The security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly challenging in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to such areas.
Copyright and Disclaimer