Biafra: IPOB asks court to nullify proscription order

The Indigenous People of Biafra on Friday asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to set aside the order proscribing it and designating it as a terrorist group.

The Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, had on Wednesday issued the proscription order upon an ex parte application by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.

But in a motion filed by IPOB’s lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, before the same judge on Friday, the group contended that the proscription order was unconstitutional.

On Friday, newsmen sighted the proof of service showing that IPOB’s motion was served on the AGF’s office shortly after it was filed before the court on Friday.

The motion was anchored on 13 grounds, first of which was that the proscription order was made without jurisdiction “as the order was granted against an entity unknown to law.”

The group also alleged that the AGF suppressed and misrepresented facts in obtaining the proscription order of the court.

It added, “That the ex parte order was made in clear violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right of IPOB to self-determination; Article 20(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, now domesticated into our Law under (Ratification and Enforcement Act) (Cap 10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990; right to fair hearing, right to freedoms of expression, and the press and rights to peaceful assembly and association; clearly provided for under Sections 36, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as (Amended) 2011.”

Insisting that the proscription order was made in error, the group contended that “the honourable court has the inherent powers to set aside its orders when either granted without jurisdiction or granted in error.”

It maintained that the process of proscribing it was hasty in a manner that suggested “clear manifestation of high-powered ethnic conspiracy” against it and the Igbo in general.

The group claimed that over 200 of its “unarmed and defenceless members were massacred during the military’s Operation Python Dance II in the South-East.

It stated that during the military operation, the military invaded and unleashed “unprovoked bloody attack” on the home of Nnamdi Kanu (the leader of IPOB), whose whereabouts it stated “has remained unknown since September 14.”

Describing the proscription order as politically motivated, IPOB stated that the order was meant to suppress the wishes and aspiration of the Igbo people.

The Indigenous People of Biafra also urged the United Nations, African Union, European Union, United States and others to investigate the alleged extra-judicial killing of its members by soldiers in the course of Operation Python Dance II.

The group also commended the National Assembly over its decision to investigate the alleged killing and the activities of IPOB.

A statement by IPOB’s spokesperson, Emma Powerful, on Friday, partly read, “Since the inception of this present Biafra agitation championed by IPOB, nobody can testify or state where IPOB was involved in criminal activity, but Nigerian soldiers have been abducting, maiming and killing our members, starting from August 30, 2015.

“We would be very pleased if National Assembly members could come and investigate this recent massacre in Abia and Rivers states. IPOB engaged in several peaceful protests and rallies across the globe without any record of violence or breakdown of law of any sort within the country called Nigeria.

“We are calling on the United Nations, European Union, African Union, Economic Community of West African States, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, United States of America, Israel, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, to come and investigate the ongoing killing of unarmed and innocent members of IPOB and the invasion of the IPOB leader’s country home at Isiama Afaraukwu Ibeku in Umuahia, Abia State by security operatives.”

In the statement, IPOB also commended the South-East Caucus in the Senate for kicking against its tag as a terror group by the Federal Government.

It added, “We the Indigenous People of Biafra and our leadership worldwide under the command and leadership of Nnamdi Kanu wish to commend the caucus of South-East senators for standing firm and bold in condemning the Nigerian government and the judiciary for proscribing and labelling IPOB as a terrorist group.

“The South-East lawmakers refused to be cowed into submission to tag IPOB as a terrorist and unlawful organisation.”

Meanwhile, a human rights activist, Mr. Alagoa Morris, has faulted the Federal Government for tagging IPOB as a terrorist organisation.

Morris, who is the Bayelsa State Coordinator, Environmental Rights Action, said in an interview in Yenagoa that the declaration was misplaced.

Morris stated, “IPOB is unlike the faceless criminals in the name of Boko Haram, which has continued to terrorise Nigerians and foreigners, killing, maiming, bombing even worshipers in churches and other public places, yet with no genuine demands.

“I do not agree that IPOB is a terrorist group. The group cannot be in the same basket where criminal, terror groups such as Boko Haram belong. Boko Haram is not only faceless, but a devilish, wicked terror group, unlike IPOB, which has a face; its leader is known and the purpose of the struggle has been made public. One wonders why citizens talking about their self-determination should be tagged as terrorists.”

He added that government should accept blame and seek ways of ensuring that Nigerians were more united through the principles of equal rights and justice. He also tasked the Federal Government to implement the 2014 national conference.

In a related development, leader of the Niger Delta Democratic Front, General Playboy, has called on the Nigeria Army to leave the South-East region and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra alone. He said the Army should stop creating the impression that the area was war-torn.

Playboy also said in a statement on Friday that it was wrong for the Army to have tagged the IPOB as a terrorist group, even as he cautioned South-East governors not to dabble into the matter between IPOB and soldiers.

He vowed that his group would continue to support IPOB, saying he dared any security agency to arrest him for backing members of the pro-Biafra group.

He added, “We are in support of IPOB and we know that IPOB is not a terrorist group. The South-East cannot ban IPOB because the group never did anything to show that they are terrorists; they can never be terrorists.

“IPOB is a peaceful organisation. If IPOB is a terrorist group, how would those tagging IPOB a terrorist group describe Boko Haram whose supporters carry guns? What have they done to Boko Haram that has been threatening everybody?

“Why would they go to the South-East and (allegedly) kill innocent people for no reason. If that is not enough for them, they will see the other side of our group. The soldiers should leave the South-East because there is no war going on there.”

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