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 was illegal. The Governors led by former Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, proscribed IPOB founded by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. About three days later, the Federal Government government listed IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
Kanu 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 include: “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.
Justice A.O. Onovo, while delivering the judgment, 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.
The court also granted N8 billion damages to Kanu as well as apologies in national dailies. It however declined jurisdiction in stopping the criminal trial of Kanu on the grounds that it is before the Supreme Court.