The proscription and designation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation by the federal government and governors of the South East has been nullified by a High Court in Enugu State headed by Justice A.O. Onovo
The court declared that the proscription was unconstitutional.
The court’s ruling followed a suit filed before it by the IPOB legal team led by Aloy Ejimakor, challenging the 2017 proscription of the group as a terrorist organisation.
Justice Onovo, who delivered judgment in the suit marked E/20/2023, declared that “the practical application of the Terrorism Prevention Act and the executive or administrative action of the respondents (Southeast Governors Forum and the federal government) which directly led to the proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist group”, was unconstitutional.
In his reaction to the court’s judgment, Ejimakor said the court held that “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 the applicant (Mazi Nnamdi Kanu) as a member/leader of the said IPOB is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to an infringement on the applicant’s fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions based on 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.
“Today, I led a team of lawyers to a landmark victory before the High Court of Enugu State in Suit No: E/20/2023 filed in January 2023 against the Southeast Governors’ Forum and the FG (Respondents) for their collective executive actions (in 2017) that led to the proscription of IPOB and declaring it a terrorist group in contravention of section 42 of the Constitution which prohibits discrimination based on ethnicity.
“In a well-considered judgment that lasted for over three hours, the High Court (coram Justice A.O. Onovo) granted the following Reliefs: ‘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.
“The court ordered the respondents, jointly or severally, to issue official letter(s) of apology to the applicant (Mazi Nnamdi Kanu) for the infringement of his said fundamental rights; and publication of said Letter(s) of Apology in three (3) national dailies.
“Ordered the respondents to, jointly or severally, pay the sum of N8 billion to the applicant (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 his fundamental rights by the respondents.”