21 September 2017

Nigeria: Why Buhari, Court Okayed IPOB Ban

Photo: Vanguard
(file photo).

Efforts of the Federal Government to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB a terrorist organisation and proscribe its activities, yesterday, bore fruits. A Federal High Court in Abuja granted an order declaring the activities of IPOB as "acts of terrorism and illegality."

The order, which followed an ex-parte motion filed by Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/871?2017, also proscribed the existence of IPOB throughout Nigeria, with particular attention paid to the South-East and South-South regions. The motion was filed yesterday and the order granted same day by Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati.

Vanguard had reported exclusively two days ago that the Federal Government had initiated a legal process to proscribe the group.

The four grounds were: "An order of the court to declare that the activities of the respondent (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegality.

"An order of the court proscribing the existence of IPOB in any part of Nigeria, particularly, 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 newspapers.

"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 IPOB under any other name of platform however called or described. And for any such further or other orders as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstance of this case."

The Justice Minister backed his application with a sworn affidavit deposed to by Corporal Kolawole Matthew of the Nigerian Army and a written address in compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act of 2011.

Malami approached the judge in company of Dayo Akpata, Solicitor-General of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, Acting Director of Civil Litigations, T.A. Garali and Oyin Koleosho.

After listening to the applicants, the Acting Chief Judge of the FHC, Justice Abdu Kafarati, granted all the orders and proscribed IPOB.

The judge ruled: "That the application by the AGF is granted as prayed.

"That an order declaring the activities of the respondents (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegality 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 newspapers 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 IPOB under any other name of platform however called or described is granted.

Issued at Abuja under the seal of the Court and the hand of the presiding judge this 20th day of September, 2017.

It was accompanied by a Certified True Copy signed by the Ben Molokwu, the Registrar and another Registrar, Prince Babatunde Adejoro Ashada.

IPOB headquarters is France -- FG

Before the order, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed , told State House correspondents at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, that President

Buhari had approved the process for proscribing IPOB.

He said that IPOB is a contraption against the administration of President Buhari and that the group is being sponsored by some foreign countries.

Mohammed said he would not join the debate over the legality or otherwise of the proscription of the group, saying "for those who are fixated with legality, I have good news for them: President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the process of proscribing IPOB, and the procedure is on as I speak."

Continuing he said, "But I ask, if the President had been overly concerned with legality, where would Nigeria have been today? If attacks in the South-East had attracted reprisals elsewhere in the country, what would have happened?

"But for the quick action of state governors in the South-East and and the North, there would have been a conflagration of immense proportions."

He said the activities of IPOB, if not for the timely intervention of some leaders from the North, especially governors from the zone and their counterpart from the South-East, the country would have been engulfed in serious crisis.

He commended the South-East governors for being proactive by "making it clear to IPOB that it has no support for its violent campaign.

"By its action, the Governors have cut off the oxygen that IPOB needs to survive. If the elected Governors of all the states in the South-East have banned the activities of IPOB, who then is the organization fighting for?

"IPOB is a contraption against the Buhari Administration, and is being sponsored by those "I call the Coalition of the Politically-Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters.

"I stand by that statement despite the noise emanating from the usual suspects.

"Finally, IPOB has decided to externalize its campaign. It has written to governments and parliaments in the West, alleging genocide in the South-East. Even a dictionary definition of 'genocide' does not support that claim. IPOB has also engaged in using highly-emotive videos of killings, which it harvested from other lands and doctored to hoodwink the international community."

On why government decided to consider IPOB as a terrorist organization when its members do not bear arms, Mohammed said, "I think anybody who has watched Nnamdi Kanu's videos anywhere he goes to he openly solicits for arms and for funds.

"I have a lot of quotations from him as to the violence intention of IPOB, in one of his videos he said if he is arrested his boys should burn down the country. The same Kanu went on television a few days ago saying he was sleeping at about 4:30pm in his house in Umuahia and then some solders were making noises; they were disturbing his sleep and his boys stopped them.

"I ask him: Which country in the world would tolerate this? Unfortunately Nigerians have short memories at times, or we tend to be very mischievous because this thing is being turned into "oh the North is persecuting the South-East or muslims persecuting christians. We have forgotten that in 1983 there was a group called Maitatsine in Kano.

It was crushed by the Shagari government; they were Muslims and Northerners...

"Honestly Nigeria has been very lucky. Last week there would have been massive bloodshed if reprisals had taken place outside the South-East and it didn't take place because our traditional rulers, governors and other leaders went out to pacify people and the kind of stories that has been trending on the social media has not helped things.

"As a matter of fact there was one stating that a major-general had been killed, not knowing that it was a retired major that was killed in Benue State over land matters.

That would have set the entire country ablaze.

"As cosmopolitan as Abuja is, it took the FCT minister to mobilise all the 17 graded traditional chiefs and emirs in Abuja to really hold meetings with all the stakeholders.

"To pacify the situation and they think its a joke, you can imagine what would have happened if the people of Kano or Kaduna started retaliating. So we are in a very dangerous situation and actually we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. The peace that you are seeing is deceptive; we must continue to work on it and we must continue to counter this very untrue narrative.

Why Buhari okayed ban on IPOB

The Minister who explained why President Buhari approved the proscription, said, "There is a procedure for proscription, the President must sign the proclamation after which the Attorney General will follow the procedure which he is doing.

"But for me do you want the President to wait for this to be put into law before you take action and stop looting or killing? Where will Nigeria be today if there is conflagration in Lagos or Kano? Like the Governor of Abia said yesterday, there are about 11million Igbos living outside the South-East. That is not a small number, its not a joke."

Asked to name those funding IPOB following the government pronouncement that it had discovered those behind its financing, he said, "I think this is not rocket science, any treasury looter would do everything possible to distract government. If by any act, God forbid it, Nigeria is today engulfed in war, and Nigeria is now involved in trying to quell unrest, will the courts be spared?

"What would be the first priority of government? It will be to quell that riot, so its a way of distraction to ensure that government is not focused, so its not rocket science that a person today who has a case in court or almost going to jail will try and cause confusion, he would go and support IPOB.

IPOB's financial HQ is in France

"We have the records, we know IPOB collects money from many people from diaspora, they collect money from many people in Nigeria; they collect money from some foreign countries; this is clear.

"Let me tell you, the financial headquarters is in France, we know. You have to block the sources of finance, that is what I said recently.

"It is incontrovertible that some people in diaspora contribute money to IPOB; where does he get his money from? We know this as a fact, again there are a few very naughty diplomatic issues which you need to skip.

"For instance, who does not know that the IPOB internal radio is located in London, we know the diplomatic moves we have been taking and approaching the UK, all the damages it's done but they don't see it that way, for them it's about freedom of expression.

"If we have a person in Nigeria openly soliciting arms to come and fight the UK, what would you think of, would you consider that freedom of expression?

"We know for a fact where the funding is coming from and we are going to stop them but it's difficult to stop them and we have been working on it and we will not stop."

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