Deproscribe Ipob Now-: Huriwa Tells Buhari:
A prominent Non Governmental organisation-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA(HURIWA) has asked the re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari to adopt a number of measures to calm down the tensed atmospheres in Nigeria and bridge the divides created by many of his policies and pronouncements in his first four year tenure which included his proscription of the unarmed pro-self determination group of Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) as a terror group; his heavily lopsided top level security appointments skewed to favour his Hausa/Fulani Moslem kinsmen and his failure to rein in armed Fulami terrorists who have destroyed many largely Christian communities in the North Central and have slaughtered women; Children and old men including youths in their thousands with no one of these killers been prosecuted and sanctioned in accordance with the law.
HURIWA said it has always faulted the misuse of state power by the federal government officials including Mr. President which resulted in the illegal proscription of an unarmed group like IPOB as a terror group even as the same administration went about dialoguing with the violent armed Fulani killer gangs and failing to declare their leaders known as MIYETTI ALLAH CATTLE OWNERS ASSOCIATION a terror organisation.
HURIWA also condemned the killings of unarmed demonstrators in Onitsha; Aba and Umuahia prior and during the ill -fated operation python dance 2 which targeted the destruction of the fully civilian led pro-self determination platform of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB). The group said the government encouraged impunity and lawlessness by not charging indicted operatives of armed security forces to court for unlawful killings of IPOB members as recorded in a science and evidence based reports by such credible groups like the Amnesty international.
HURIWA recalled that to show how irregular and unconstitutional the one -sided declaration of IPOB as a terror group even when the unarmed members of IPOB had suffered thousands of casualties from unprovoked attacks by the Army and police is, HURIWA said two days to the official proclamation of IPOB as a terror group the Army had already jumped the gun by pronouncing the group a terror organisation when the defence Headquarters (DHQ) in 2017 two days to the Presidential controversial proclamation had illegally declared the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a “terrorist organization.”
HURIWA recalled that a statement signed by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), (as he then was) Major General John Enenche in Abuja listed reasons why the group was declared a terrorist organization to include the formation of a Biafra Secret Service; formation of Biafra National Guard; unauthorized blocking of public access roads; extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
Others include: Militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on the September 10; physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a checkpoint on September 11, 2017 and also attempts to snatch their rifles and attack by IPOB members at a military checkpoint on September 12, 2017, at Isiala Ngwa, where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female soldier’s rifle.
Enenche said after due professional analysis and recent developments, it has become expedient to notify the general public that the claim by IPOB actors that the organisation is non-violent is not true.
The statement reads: “From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to confirm to the general public that IPOB from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation.
“Therefore, parents and particularly unsuspecting residents of the South East and other Nigerians should advice their wards to desist from joining the group.
“The Defence Headquarters restates its commitment to handling all the security challenges in the country and further assures all Nigerians of the protection of lives and property.”
HURIWA said the claims contained in the statement by the Army was absolutely untrue; spurious; unconstitutional and had demonstrated a plot to demonize the group only because the members are mostly from the Igbo speaking South East of Nigeria that has in the last four years of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration suffered systemic marginalisation and has not been given her due in terms of appointments at the top most security levels to depict the Federal Character principles.
HURIWA also recalled that in a swift reaction, the IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu told The Channels Television in a telephone interview then that IPOB is a non-violent group and should not be tagged a terrorist group..
HURIWA recalled that when asked why the group was recruiting a secret army, Kanu said that his group was not recruiting any secret army, but a vigilante group. He said his group would follow due process in challenging the declaration by the army.
HURIWA recalled that also speaking, the former president Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Dozie Ikedife, told the media that he wondered how the military arrived at declaring a non-violent group like IPOB a violent group.
“I challenge the military to define what is a terrorist group and how IPOB was tagged one. Well, I am very surprised. But this may be a case of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. The world is watching,” Ikedife said.
HURIWA recalled that two days after the illegal statement by the Army declaring IPOB a terror group the President proceeded to the Federal High Court, Abuja whereby the Presidency was belatedly granted an application filed ex parte and moved by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), proscribing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The then acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Adamu Kafarati, granted the application in Abuja without ever grabtibg fair hearing to IPOB in clear breach of the fair hearing provisiobs of section 36(5) of the Nigerian constitution.
HURIWA regrettably recalled that the unconstitutionally procured order also declared as illegal, all activities of the organization. The court also restrained “any person or group of persons from participating in any of the group’s activities.”
HURIWA recalled that the now rerired jurist against all well known judicial principle of not shaving a man's head in his absence also ordered the government to publish the order in its official gazette and two national dailies.
HURIWA recalled that then Justice Abdul Adamu Kafarati while giving his judgement said: “Upon reading through the affidavit I support, certificate on compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011 both sworn to by CPL Kolawole Mathew of the Nigerian Army and written address attached thereto all dated and filed at the court registry, Abuja.
“That an order declaring that the activities of the respondent (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-east and South-south regions of Nigeria, amount to acts of terrorism and illegality, is granted.
HURIWA recalled that subsequently against all well meaming opposition to the illegal decision, President Muhammadu Buhari wrnt ahead and signed a presidential proclamation proscribing IPOB, effectively initiating the formal process of banning the group in accordance with the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
Section 2 (1) of the Terrorism Act states that “where two or more persons associate for the purpose of, or where an organization engages in: (a) participating or collaborating in an act of terrorism; (b) promoting, encouraging or exhorting others to commit an act of terrorism; or (c) setting up or pursuing acts of terrorism, the judge in chambers may on an application made by the Attorney General, National Security Adviser or Inspector General of Police on the approval of the President, declare any entity to be a proscribed organization and the notice should be published in the official gazette”.
Sub-section 2 goes further to state: “An order made under sub-section (1) of this section shall be published in the official gazette, in two national newspapers and at such other places as the judge in chambers may determine.”
HURIWA has therefore asked President Muhammadu Buhari to deproscribe IPOB as a terror group, make top level security and national appointments in his last four year term of his Presidency to reflect Federal Character principles and present him as a statesman rather than a Northern regional warlord that most Southerners think of him and also set free all political prisoners including erstwhile National Security Adviser Colonel Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Shiites Islamic Movement of Nigeria.