A Federal High Court in Sokoto has ordered members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) otherwise called Shi’ites to comply with all existing laws while performing their religious activities in Sokoto state.
The presiding Judge, Justice Saleh Idrissa issued the order in his judgment Wednesday on the enforcement of fundamental human rights suit instituted by Prof. Shehu Maigandi, Kasimu Muhammad and Sidi Umar on behalf of IMN members.
The six respondents in the suit were Inspector General of Police, Sokoto State Commissioner of Police, Government and Governor of Sokoto State, the state Attorney-General, Director General of Department of State Security and the state Director of DSS.
However, Justice Idrissa dismissed the objection raised by the respondents that applicants were not competent and known in law to institute the suit stressing that human rights cases did not need locu standi before approaching any competent court.
He said police had statutory obligations to protect lives and properties while IMN as group or individuals has rights and freedom to practice their religion activities provided they wouldn’t jeopardize others right to freedom.
The presiding judge however, orders the police to stop any form of undue intemperance and harassment to the applicants as constitution allowed individuals and groups to express views, assembly and perform religion of thir choice provided they comply with public order regulations.
Justice Idrissa also discountenanced the compensation claim and did not award any sum to the applicants.
Counsel to applicants, Mr Alex Ajodo, had argued that the court has competent jurisdiction to entertain the suit and stating that IMN members were entitled to equal treatment and protection by the police like other citizens of Sokoto state.
However, Ajodo prayed the court to declare that incessant harassment, molestation and physical attacks on the plaintiffs by government and security agencies were deliberate infringements of their fundamental rights to liberty and freedom as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He further prayed the court to declare that failure of police to respond to their petition filed on Oct. 24, 2017 on protecting them during their activities as a dangerous disregard of their constitutional responsibilities.
He prayed the court to declare also the state- wide broadcast and publication on Sept. 28, 2017 by Sokoto state government as inciting and outright demonstration of hatred capable of setting the public against the group.
Ajodo sought for an order restraining the respondents from further molestation and harassment during the Ashura events and restraining government against any form of publication against the group or any of its members.
He also prayed the court to order the respondents to provide IMN members with security during their religious activities, oral and written apologies as well as N50 million compensation for damages.
He also argued that constitutional provisions on Public Order Act 1979 Capp42 had superseded Religion Preaching and Establishment of Mosque Edicts of 1986 Cap 123 laws of Sokoto state.