Proscription of IPOB unconstitutional, says court

Awards N8bn to Kanu

Justice A. O. Onovo of the Enugu State High Court, Thursday, ruled that the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) by the Southeast Governors’ Forum in 2017 is illegal.

Recall that the governors, led by former Gov Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, proscribed IPOB founded by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and about three days later, the federal government listed IPOB as a terrorist organization.

Kanu had approached the court to seek the reversal of the prescription based on the fact that IPOB is a registered organization, and composed of members who are exercising their right of association.

The respondents to the case are the Southeast governors and the federal government. The suit was instituted by Kanu’s special counsel, Barr Aloy Ejimakor.

The reliefs sought by Kanu are, “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 arrest, detention and prosecution of Kanu as a member/leader of said IPOB, is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of the applicant’s fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions on the basis of his ethnicity as enshrined and guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and his 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, MAZI NNAMDI KANU.

“AN ORDER mandating and compelling the respondents, jointly or severally, to issue official letter(s) of apology to Kanu for the infringement of his said fundamental rights; and publication of said letter(s) of apology in three national dailies.

“AN ORDER mandating and compelling the respondents to, jointly or severally, pay the sum of N8,000,000,000.00 (Eight Billion Naira) to Kanu, being monetary damages claimed by the applicant against the respondents jointly and severally for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, property and other damages suffered by the applicant as a result of the infringements of their fundamental rights by the respondents.”

Justice A.O. Onovo, while delivering the judgement, agreed with the applicant that the African Charter binds on Nigerian courts, hence self-determination is not a crime. He held that the proscription is therefore unconstitutional.

On monetary damages, the court granted N8bn damages to Kanu as well as apologies in national dailies. It however declined jurisdiction in stopping the criminal trial of Kanu on grounds that it is before the Supreme Court.

Ejimakor commended the court for being the last hope of the coming man. In his words, “We are grateful that justice had prevailed over this matter since 2017. The court has reaffirmed the hopes of the common man in the judiciary. You have saved thousands of lives.”

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