The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is now officially proscribed and deemed a terror group following the order by the Federal High Court in Abuja ratifying the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari outlawing the group and its activities.
The Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, who did not sit in the open court, granted the order proscribing the group on Wednesday.
Justice Kafarati heard and granted the ex parte motion filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in chambers.
The court proscribed IPOB, labelling it a terror organization.
It declared that the activities of IPOB in Nigeria, particularly in the South-East and South-South regions, constituted “acts of terrorism and illegality”.
Kafarati also ordered the AGF to ensure the publication of the IPOB proscription order in the official gazette, as well as in two national dailies.
After the motion was moved by the AGF, Justice Kafarati who was sworn in as Acting CJ of the high court on September 16, declared thus: “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.”
Malami was accompanied to court by the Solicitor General of the Federation, Tayo Apata, the Acting Director, Civil Litigation, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru, to secure the order.
Justice Kafarati was appointed to head the court in acting capacity pending when his name will be sent to the Senate by President Muhammadu Buhari for confirmation.
This development is coming after the Nigerian Army declared IPOB a terror organization following its clashes with members of the group in Abia State.
The army’s decision was met with widespread criticism, as observers faulted the decision for falling short of the standard procedure for such a declaration.
Reacting to the backlash, the army somewhat backtracked, denying issuing such a declaration and stating that the executive had the responsibility to initiate such a process.
Today’s decision will not come as a surprise to many observers who had seen and reacted to reports of moves by the AGF to pursue the proscription of the group through the legal process.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group had even accused the AGF of shopping for a court order in secret to achieve this goal, warning against the implications of such a move.
Considering the fact that Justice Kafarati’s order was not done in open court, Ohanaeze and other critics may consider their suspicions proven.
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