Human rights activist Senator Shehu Sani on Sunday in Kano proffered solution to the lingering controversy between the Federal Government and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) popularly known as Shi’ites.
He insisted that proscribing the group as a terror organisation is not in the best interest of national peace and security.
Sani, who spoke to a group of reporters in Kano, said the only way forward for a lasting solution is for the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III and prominent Islamic clerics to stand as a guarantors for the eventual release of the IMN leader, Ibrahim El-ZakZaky and his wife who have been in detention since 2015.
According to him, branding IMN a terror organisation will not solve the protracted crisis but will aggravate it.
“The solution to IMN problem in my own personal opinion are like four: the first, is that the Sultan of Sokoto and other religious leaders should provide guarantee to the Federal Government on which the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria would be released to them, that is one;
“Secondly, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria should cease all form of protest whether peaceful or violent.
“The third aspect of it, the government should move towards addressing the problems of those of their members that were killed and their homes were destroyed in compliance with the previous Court Orders.
“The fourth aspect of it is that the movement should severe all its alleged relationship with nations outside of Nigeria that pose security threats on our country.
“If they are a Movement, they should be a Movement as the name implies a Nigeria Movement to pursue their ideas, their beliefs and also whatever they preach.
“But when these issues are put on the table, I believe we can have a better way of solving them but we must avoid a situation where the Movement that we can see, the Movement that we can feel, the Movement we can touch, the Movement that we know they have members, leaders and structures that will suddenly disappear out of our own radar and do something sinister.
“The Movement that has been existing for four decades and they have faced a lot of persecution from successive governments and we must not in any way create more problems than the one we are confronted with in this country.”
He added: “You see, we have a culture of hiding our pepper in our nose or trying to quench the fire by creating walls of curtain. That is the way we are going.
“The court of law cannot address a problem of either insurgency or agitation or crushing this kind of idea. We have heard several laws on terrorism and it is 10 years today but we are still battling Boko Haram that is one.
“Secondly, which one do we prefer—the Islamic Movement that has a leader we can arrest, that has members we can see, that has an identity that we can prosecute or a group that can be forced to go underground and pose a serious security danger on the country, I think the option is ours.
“It is either we prefer an organisation like the Islamic Movement, that is the one we can see, or the one we cannot see.
“We have not been able to crush the one we cannot see and we are already creating a new one.”
According to him, “a nation that can go so low to sit down with bandits and negotiate is in contradiction for it to say it cannot talk with the other group.
“If you can sit down on a bench and discuss with bandit, if you can open your gates for bandits, if you can shake the hand of bandits in order to find peace, you can also find peace by talking to this other group.”