The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said yesterday that its declaration as a terrorist organisation by the Defence Headquarters was a clear breach of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2011.
The DHQ, on Friday, pronounced IPOB a ‘militant terrorist organisation’ in Nigeria for allegedly “clandestinely and actively terrorizing the general public.”
Major-General John Enenche, Director, Defence Information (DDI), listed IPOB’s acts of terrorism as: the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorized blocking of public access roads and extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
But IPOB, in a statement yesterday, faulted the step taken by the DHQ, citing Section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2011.
It argued that the Section stipulates that “only a judge can declare an organisation proscribed based on proven case of acts of terrorism and such case will be presented to the judge through an application made by the attorney-general or the National Security Adviser or the Inspector General of Police with the approval of the president. The judge’s declaration will thereafter be gazetted.”
It then posed the following questions: “Which judge did the DDI make such application to and was it approved by the president prior to submitting the application?
“Where is the approval given to the DDI by the judge? When and where was the Judge’s declaration gazetted?”
It said: “In particular, this deceitful act is a violation and interference into the judicial arm of government and it is an overreach. It is also a deliberate act in contempt of a subsisting ruling in a competent court of law.
“IPOB, whether led by Nnamdi Kanu or led by the DOS, is not a terrorist organisation because no court of competent jurisdiction has so declared it. The so-called declaration by Major-General Enenche is null and void and of no effect.”
Besides, IPOB said there is a subsisting court order which says “IPOB is not an unlawful society/organisation.”
It said the order was made in a March 1, 2017 ruling by Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako gave her judgment having studied the conditions for an organisation to be deemed unlawful as stipulated in section-62 of CAP C38 L.F.N. 2004,” Emma Nmezu and Clifford Iroanya, who identified themselves as spokespersons of IPOB said in the statement.
They added: “Up till this day, that ruling from Justice Binta Murtala-Nyako has not been upturned by any court.”
It asked the military authorities to fire Enenche for issuing the statement.
The IPOB position is shared by the Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani.
He said,” I advise that they take a critical look at the dictionary meaning of “terrorism” before they take the decision to declare IPOB as one.
“The second issue and most importantly is that declaring any organisation as a terrorist group must comply with legal and executive procedures absence of which makes a mockery of the declaration.
“I do not think that the present declaration complied strictly with known procedures for declaration. America declared Boko Haram a terrorist group after due compliance with processes and procedures.
“Is the President of the country really aware of this declaration? What of the Attorney General of the Federation? Are they all aware?”
“Strenuous and conscious efforts must be made by all parties to stop this brewing conflagration to reduce tension in the polity and pursue peace to a logical conclusion. Development can only thrive in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity”.