By Biodun Busari
The detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Government for labelling his group as a terrorist organisation.
In the suit marked E/20/2023, and filed by Kanu’s Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, the IPOB leader is seeking an order that self-determination is not a crime and consequently cannot be held on to arrest, detain and prosecute him and the members of IPOB.
Asides from the federal government, other Respondents are the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Governor of Ebonyi State and the South-East Governors.
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The matter which was filed before an Enugu State High Court asked the court to bar the Respondents from taking a further step in “any criminal prosecutions of the Applicant and members of IPOB on the basis of the said proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist group.”
The suit began with originating Application Brought Pursuant to Order II Rules 1 & 2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Articles 2, 3, 19 & 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act and under the jurisdiction of the Court as preserved by Sections 6 and 46 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
Kanu contended that the proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist organisation is illegal under section 42 of the 1999 constitution as amended and under Articles 2, 3, 19 & 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Enforcement and Ratification) Act.
He made an argument that “professing the political opinion of self-determination and the consequent arrest, detention and prosecution of the Applicant as a member/leader of said IPOB is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional.”
He sought among others: “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 Nigerian ethnic groups, professing the political opinion of self-determination and the consequent arrests, detentions, prosecutions and extrajudicial killings of the members of the said IPOB is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of their fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions on the basis of their ethnicity as enshrined and guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and their 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 cannot be used as a basis to arrest, detain and prosecute the Applicant and members of IPOB.”
It further argued, “For clarity and contrasting, examples of such other similarly-situated groups of other ethnicities to which same disabilities or restrictions are not subjected include the following: I. the Arewa Youth Forum (mainly of Hausa/Fulani ethnic stock). II. The Odua Peoples Congress (mainly of Yoruba ethnic stock. III. The Miyeti Allah (mainly of Hausa/Fulani). IV. The Niger Delta Avengers (mainly of Ijaw ethnic stock). V. The notoriously murderous Fulani Herdsmen (mainly of Fulani ethnic stock). In particular, the Fulani Herdsmen which has never been proscribed, nor declared a terrorist organization in Nigeria has, nonetheless, been internationally declared as the 4th deadliest terrorist organization in the world.”
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