By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Federal Government, yesterday, secured an order from the Federal High Court in Abuja proscribing the Indegeniuos People of Biafra, IPOB.
Acting Chief Judge of the high court, Justice Abdul Kafafati outlawed IPOB on the strength of an ex-parte motion that was filed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, filed on behalf of the government.
Specifically, Justice Kafafati declared as illegal, all activities of the group, particularly in the South-east and South-South regions of the country.
He further restrained “any person or group of persons from participating in any of the group’s activities”.
Nevertheless, the high court ordered the AGF to ensure the publication of the IPOB proscription order in the official gazette, as well as in two national dailies.
Malami was accompanied to court by the Solicitor General of the Federation, SGF, Tayo Apata, the Acting Director, Civil Litigation, at the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, to secure the order.
After the motion was moved by the AGF, Justice Kafarati who was sworn-in as Acting CJ of the high court on September 16, declared thus:
“That an order, declaring the activities of the respondent – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – in any part of Nigeria especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegallity, is granted.
“That an order, proscribing the existence of the respondent (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-east and South-South regions of Nigeria either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called and publishing same in the official gazette and two national dailies, is granted.
“That an order, restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the respondent (IPOB) under any other name or platform however called or described, is granted.”
Justice Kafafati was okayed to head the high court in acting capacity pending when his name is sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation of his appointment.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian Army had on the heels of its code-named Operation Python Dance II in the South East and South South zones of the country, declared the IPOB an illegal organization.
Five Governors of the South East States equally towed the line of the Nigerian Army by also proscibing activities of the group in all the South Eastern states.
Their actions elicited varied reactions, with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki being among those that faulted the Nigerian Army which he said lacked the constitutional powers to proscribe the group.
The Senate President urged FG to follow the laid down procedure if it was determined to ban activities of the IPOB in the country.
IPOB which is led by Mr. Nnamdi Kanu is at the center of renewed agitation for actualization of the defunct Biafra republic.
The separatist group had in a bid to drive home its demand for the Nigerian government to conduct a referendum as a pre-condition for the establishment of Biafra Republic, ordered a boycott of the governorship election scheduled to hold in Anambra State on November 18.
Kanu who is equally a British citizen, is currently facing five-count t reasonable felony charge before the high court, alongside four other pro-Biafra agitators.
The defendants are billed to appear before the court on October 17 to enter their plea to an amended charge FG preferred against them.
Ordinarily, ex-parte orders have a lifespan not exceeding 14 days.
Meanwhile, reacting to the court order yesterday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who pleaded that his name be shielded from print, discribed the court order as a mockery of Justice.
A message the SAN sent to Vanguard read: “This is mockery of justice. How can a Judge make declaratory orders upon an ex parte application?
“The Fulani herdsmen that have been terrorising and killing hundreds of Nigerians do not come under the Federal Government’s banner of “terrorist organisation,” even when they occupy the 4th position on the world map in that regard! Shame unto Nigeria!
“Also, if IPOB is unregistered, it remains a non-juristic body, incapable of suing or being sued. How come the Learned Attorney-General of the Federation sued it in that name? He ought to have sued ‘Nnamdi Kanu, et al, acting under the name and style IPOB.
“Any aggrieved person can either appeal against the order within 14 days or apply to the same Federal High Court within 6 days to have the orders set aside.
“Injustice only breeds prolonged indignation and contempt. Even though I don’t support any bit what those separatists are doing, the clear bias of the Federal Government – of meting out differential treatment to Nigerians – depending on where one comes from – is grave injustice, to say the least”.