The President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, yesterday, reacted to the ruling by the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court by declining to set-aside the order that designated the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as a terrorist organization.
The President General said, “It is unfortunate that our courts are allowing themselves to be used for unlawful and political ends. IPOB has done nothing to qualify, as defined by international standards, to be called a terrorist organization.
“Sadly, the Federal Attorney General in his parochialism, unmitigated bias and calumny has not found it necessary to classify Fulani herdsmen as terrorists inspite of their classification by the Global Terrorist Index as the fourth deadliest terrorist organization in the world.
“Ohaneze frowns at this nepotism, this denigration of our judiciary and this stigmatization of our children.”
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, declined to set-aside the order that designated the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as a terrorist organization.
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, in a ruling delivered by the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Abdu-Kafarati, dismissed the application IPOB filed to challenge the September 20, 2017, order that outlawed its activities in Nigeria.
Justice Kafarati in the ruling acknowledged that every Nigerian citizen has the right to assemble freely and to form or belong to any association for the protection of his interests, he however stressed that under section 45 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, such right could be curtailed “in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health”, as well as “for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons”.
Justice Kafarati then said he was persuaded by affidavit evidence and exhibits the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, adduced before the court, which he said showed that existence of the IPOB constituted a threat to national security.
He dismissed the argument of counsel to the IPOB, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, that the group, not being a registered entity in Nigeria, could not be validly sued by the Federal Government.
The court maintained that the fact that IPOB claimed that it was registered in so many countries outside Nigeria, did not exculpate it from legal liabilities if it was found to have by its activities, violated any law in Nigeria
“The question is whether a foreigner in Nigeria is subject to Nigerian law? Can that foreigner be arrested and prosecuted in Nigeria? The answer is yes.
“It is therefore my considered view that the argument of Ejiofor has no basis. I hold that the applicant is subject to Nigerian law and courts”, the Judge added.
The Justice further held that the proscription order he issued against IPOB in chambers was proper in law since it was based on an ex-parte motion that was anchored on provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act, adding that the motion was backed with “Presidential approval.”
Consequently, it resolved all three issues that were formulated against the proscription order against the IPOB, and also awarded a cost of N500, 000 against the outlawed group.
Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, an Igbo development group, responded to the court decision saying that the court rulings sounded more like a political statement.
President of ADF, Prof. Timothy Nwala said: “the declaration sounds like a political statement. Legal declarations are born out of sound logic. I doubt if there is any rational thought in this case.
“There was no rational basis for the court verdict. The world knows what they are doing. If Fulani Marauders are not terrorists, I wonder what the world would say.”
Meanwhile, IPOB’s lawyer, Ejiofor, has vowed to take the case before the Court of Appeal saying that the Judge failed to consider fundamental issues that IPOB raised in its application.
The court had in the ruling last year, declared as illegal, all activities of the IPOB, particularly in the South-east and South-South regions of the country.
It specifically restrained “any person or group of persons from participating in any of the group’s activities”.
However, IPOB had asked the court to vacate the proscription order which it said was surreptitiously obtained by the AGF.
IPOB filed a motion pursuant to Section 6(6) (1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, maintained that the proscription order “was made without jurisdiction”, adding that it was “granted against an entity unknown to law.”
IPOB queried the legal validity of the order, saying there was “clear suppression and misrepresentation of facts,” in the affidavit evidence the AGF submitted, upon which the order was granted.
It argued that the proscription order was tantamount to declaring over 30 million Nigerians of Igbo extraction as terrorists.