The case filed by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a body of Shi’ite Muslims, to challenge their proscription and designation as a terrorist group has been re-assigned to another judge of the court.
It was gathered on Friday that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, re-assigned the case from Justice Nkeonye Maha, who issued the proscription order ex parte on July 26, 2019, to Justice Inyang Ekwo, who also sits in the Abuja division of the court.
This was confirmed by a copy of the hearing notice issued by the registry of Justice Ekwo’s court on October 16, 2019, indicating that the new judge had taken over the case.
A copy of the hearing notice seen by our correspondent on Friday slated the hearing of the IMN case before the new judge for November 25.
Recall that Justice Maha issued the proscription order while she was sitting as a vacation judge, but all the efforts by the IMN’s legal team to have the judge hear the application challenging the order during the vacation period proved abortive.
On the resumption of the court’s judges for the new 2019/2020 legal year in September, the chief judge decided not to return the IMN case to Justice Maha but to re-assign it to Justice Ekwo.
Justice Maha had, following the Federal Government’s ex parte application, issued the order of proscription of the Shiite organisation and designated the group’s activities in any part of Nigeria “as acts of terrorism and illegality”.
The court in the ruling delivered on July 26, 2019, restrained “any person or group of persons” from participating in any form of activities involving or concerning the IMN “under any name or platform” in Nigeria.
Following the issuance of the proscription order on July 26, the Federal Government, on July 29, published the proscription order; but the IMN, on August 2, 2019, filed its application to challenge the proscription order.
The group, in the application filed on behalf of the group by Mr Femi Falana (SAN), alleged as part of the grounds for seeking the reversal of the proscription order that the order was made without jurisdiction.
The Federal Government has, however, opposed the application urging the court to affirm the proscription order.
In its counter-affidavit filed against the IMN’s motion, the Federal Government alleged that the leader of the IMN, Sheik Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, had the sole aim of turning Nigerian into an Islamic state.