Nigeria court gives military permission to class Shia group as 'terrorist'

Nigeria court gives military permission to class Shia group as 'terrorist'
2 min read
28 July, 2019
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria's leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky is in jail.
Hundreds of Zakzaky's supporters have been killed in the crackdown [Getty]
A Nigerian court has given the government permission to label a local Shia group as "terrorist", which could allow authorities to launch a crackdown on supporters of a jailed Muslim cleric.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) could soon be proscribed a "terrorist" organisation following the decision by the federal court, as supporters of the group continue with protests against the jailing of Ibrahim el-Zakzaky.

He has been in jail since 2015, despite a court ordering authorities to release him.

Supporters of the Zakzaky have held regular - sometimes bloody - protests in Nigerian cities demanding his release with 20 people killed during demonstrations this week according to the Shia group.

The Nigerian army killed almost 350 of Zakzaky's followers when they raided his compound, a mosque and burial ground in the north of the country in 2015.

Last week, a Nigerian court adjourned a special hearing to grant medical access to Zakzaky.

Human rights groups and activists have voiced concerns about the cleric's health and condemned the repeated delays in Zakzaky's release.

"By repeatedly adjourning the hearing, the authorities are purposely delaying Zakzaky from receiving any medical attention despite being aware that his health has dangerously deteriorated," Afreen Rizvi, an activist with the #FreeZakzaky movement told The New Arab.

"In the coming days, the world may witness a silent assassination of a peaceful cleric."

Nigeria is split between the mostly-Muslim north, almost all Sunnia, and a Christian-majority south. 

The IMN claims to represent Nigeria's Shia minority and said to be inspired by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.