The Fall And Future Of Biafra
Nigeria News examine the future of IPOB as Southeast governors proscribe the group and the Nigerian Army designate it as terrorist group.
The Southeast governors rose from an extraordinary meeting on Friday to proscribe the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The governors dissociated themselves from Biafra agitators and reaffirmed their commitment to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, its peace and unity.
It was also a day the Nigerian military labelled the IPOB as a terrorist group. With this, the country will be battling two terrorist groups, the IPOB and the Boko Haram.
By implication, anybody that associates or show sympathy for the members of the IPOB may be aiding terrorism and he is liable to be treated as one.
Agitation for a Biafra state has been a long dream since the days of late Odumegwu Ojukwu but never became a reality.
It resurfaced at the inception of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari with a Radio Biafra by the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The man who had campaigned for one Nigeria and support for the ex-president Goodluck Jonathan before 2015 became the enemy of the state, ranting hate speeches to discredit the current administration.
Kanu and his members sought again, a Biafra state. He was arrested, detained and prosecuted by the Federal Government.
The IPOB leader was later released on bail but with some stringent conditions, most of which he had breached. He set up a Biafra Security Service, organized rallies against the bail conditions and walked as a freeman on the street of Umuahia.
The IPOB activities threatened the peace and unity of Nigeria with hate speech and plot to stop the forthcoming governorship election in Abia State. The group stopped the commercial activities in the state for two days when it declared a stay at home protest.
Kanu loomed large as he uttered gutter language to demystify Nigeria president, Muhammadu Buhari as a sectional leader.
The Federal Government called on the political elites in the Southeast to intervene and stop the IPOB leader from making hate speeches. The governors had a meeting with Kanu where they urged him to toe the line of dialogue instead of violence, which he agreed.
However, Kanu broke the peaceful agreement again early last week when his members allegedly blocked the men of Nigerian Army from passing through the street of his residence in Umuahia, Abia State.
The altercation led to the Operation Pythons Dance II confronting the illegality of the IPOB in Abia State. Police station was set ablaze by the irate IPOB mob, commercial activities were paralysed, making the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to declare a two-day curfew.
The curfew and the continuous presence of the soldiers doused the tension anyway but the biggest axe fell on IPOB on Friday when the governors met again to proscribe it.
But to a constitutional lawyer, Jiti Ogunye, the proscription and the designation of IPOB as a terrorist group was not done with due process.
He said both steps are illegal and unconstitutional.
As he put it, under Section 2 (1)(c) of the Terrorism Act, No. 10, 2011, a judge of the federal high court in chambers may on an application made by the Attorney General of the Federation, National Security Adviser or Inspector General of Police on the approval of the President declare any entity to be a proscribed organisation and the notice should be published in a National Gazette.
When the Judge sits in Chambers, he usually sits on an application ex parte. In this case, an application is heard and determined without the target party, the organisation being sought to be proscribed being first heard and granted a fair hearing. However, upon the proscription of the organisation, it, rightly, can approach the court for a de-proscription order.
Evidently therefore, the Defence Headquarters had no statutory power to proscribe terrorist organization. The military, in recognition of its subordination to civil authority, ought to have officially liaised with the designated authorities that possess the power, if they are armed with intelligence or security reports warranting the classification of IPOB as a terrorist organisation, and its proscription. This slap of the lack of coherence and coordination of law enforcement and security agencies that bothers the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency.