The seeming disagreement between the Legislature and the Executive over the constitutionality or otherwise of the proscription of the renegade group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has been resolved in favour of the Executive by the Judiciary. At least for now.
The Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, has granted the order proscribing the group. The court declared that the activities of IPOB in Nigeria, particularly in the South-East or South-South regions now constitute acts of terrorism.
The Court granted the ex parte application filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), proscribing the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organization.
The court also restrained any person or group of persons from participating in any of the IPOB activity.
Justice Kafarati ordered the Federal Government to publish the court order on IPOB proscription in its official gazette and two national dailies.
The order to be published are as follows:
*That an order, declaring the activities of the respondent – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – in any part of Nigeria especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegallity, 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 dailies, 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 the respondent (IPOB) under any other name or platform however called or described, is granted.”
Recall that Senate President had faulted the procedure for the ban on IPOB stating “that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by Governors of the South-east states and the categorization of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does not follow due process.”
He added: “Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect. I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process. This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operate by laid down process under every circumstance.”
But the Executive, through its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, faulted the position of Saraki and others like him with his own argument, suggesting the times do not give room for legal and constitutional niceties.
However, Justice Kafarati’s ruling has put paid to the brewing face-off within government. Perhaps, until an appeal is thrown up from within or without government.