A state high court sitting in Enugu has nullified the 2017 proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation.
Anthony Onovo, the presiding judge, on Thursday ruled that the proscription of IPOB is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader.
In September 2017, the defence headquarters branded IPOB, a “militant terrorist organisation.
Some days later, former President Muhammadu Buhari approved the legal process for the proscription of the separatist group.
On September 20, 2017, a federal high court in Abuja declared the activities of IPOB as “acts of terrorism”.
The court’s judgement was sequel to an
application filed by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), and minister of justice at the time.
THE COURT VERDICT
In January 2023, Aloy Ejimakor, counsel to Kanu and IPOB, filed a suit against the five governors of the south-east and the federal government over the proscription of the group.
Other respondents in the suit were the president of Nigeria, the attorney general of the federation, and the governor of Ebonyi state.
Ejimakor had sought the following reliefs from the court: “A declaration that the practical application of the Terrorism Prevention Act and the executive or administrative action of the respondents which directly led to the proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist group, said IPOB being comprised of citizens of Nigeria of the Igbo and other Eastern Nigeria ethnic groups, professing the political opinion of self determination and the consequent arrest, detention and prosecution of Kanu as a member/leader of said IPOB, is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of the applicant’s fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions on the basis of his ethnicity as enshrined and guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and his fundamental rights as enshrined under Articles 2,3,19 & 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Enforcement and Ratification) Act.
“A declaration that self-determination is not a crime and thus can not be used as a basis to arrest, detain, and prosecute the applicant, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“An order mandating and compelling the respondents, jointly or severally, to issue official letter(s) of apology to Kanu for the infringement of his said fundamental rights; and publication of said letter(s) of apology in three national dailies.
“An order mandating and compelling the respondents to, jointly or severally, pay the sum of N8,000,000,000.00 (eight Billion Naira) to Kanu, being monetary damages claimed by the applicant against the respondents jointly and severally for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, property and other damages suffered by the applicant as a result of the infringements of their fundamental rights by the respondents.”
In his ruling, the judge asked the respondents to give N8 billion to Kanu as damages for the physical, mental, and psychological stress during the violation of his human rights.
The judge also ruled that the respondents should publish a letter of apology to Kanu in three national dailies.