by Alexander O. Onukwue
By the suit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, the Federal High Court in Abuja has declared the activities of IPOB as “acts of terrorism and illegality”.
According to Sahara Reporters, the Court’s order “proscribed the existence of IPOB throughout Nigeria, with particular attention paid to the South-East and South-South regimes”. This latest development follows reports from the previous week that the Nigerian Army has declared the group as a terrorist group and the reports that President Buhari would sign a proscription order against the group.
The court documents are dated 20th September 2017, with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/871/2017 and bear the seal of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Abuja, A. Abdu Kafarati.
After the hasty declaration of the group as terrorist by the Nigerian Army and the criticisms that followed, it appears the Government has chosen to take the measure employed by President Goodluck Jonathan in proscribing Boko Haram four years ago. Boko Haram’s proscription order was obtained also from the Federal High Court in Abuja, on the 24th of May 2013.
IPOB is not registered as an organisation in Nigeria but was cited as a sole respondent in the order. The last of the four orders on the document granted the 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 (Indigenous People of Biafra) under any other name or platform however called or described).
Does it now mean it is definitively illegal to belong to IPOB or protest in its name? Will the IPOB members accept it or are we to expect the group to distance itself from the court order and rubbish it as not binding on them, after the manner of their treatment of other memoranda from the Federal Government?