Published On: Sun, Sep 24th, 2017

Igbo lawyers flay FG, SE govs over IPOB proscription

Obinna Ezugwu

 

Last week’s declaration of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group by a Federal High Court in Abuja following an application filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to legalise an earlier declaration by the Army and South east governors to that effect, a group of legal professionals from the zone have decried the action of government, describing it as illegal. The senior lawyers in various interactions with Business Hallmark said the action of the Federal Government was null and void as according to them, it had no legal basis.

 

They also criticised the governors of the zone who had a fortnight ago, in the heat of the military onslaught against IPOB members in Abia State, proscribed the activities of the group, noting that the decision of the governors was illegal and that they acted under compulsion from the Federal government.

 

In his remarks, president emeritus of Igbo think tank group, Aka Ikenga and a legal practitioner, Chief Goddy Uwazurike said the action of the Federal Government was not focused. He insisted that IPOB was not a registered organisation in Nigeria, and even if it was, a judgment could not be given against it without service.

 

“It is not a surprise that they have taken this kind of macabre because a government that is well balanced does not go for frivolities. All that they did in court was just next to nothing, otherwise when you file a suit in court, there must be either a respondent or a defendant,” he said.

 

“In this case, you filed an action; the applicant is the Attorney General, who is the respondent? If the respondent is IPOB, is it a legal body? Even if it is not a legal body, did you serve IPOB? As a lawyer, we don’t get declaratory action by ex parte, you cannot.

 

“Declaratory action must come after a hearing; there was no hearing. All that the Attorney General did was to go and ask for an ex parte in the absence of the other party. And he got it inside the judge’s chamber. So, who is the lawyer on the other side? Nobody! It is more like a conversation between the Attorney General and the Acting Chief Judge. So, as far as I know, there is no such power in law, because IPOB was never registered in law, IPOB never applied to register in Nigeria.

 

“If they are using it as a blackmail plot, it will not work. You charge somebody to court for belonging to an illegal body; the person can challenge the entire thing and bring down everything that has been done. So, it makes no sense.”

 

Uwazurike also took a swipe at the governors of the South East, noting that their decision was most likely based on instructions from Abuja.

 

“What the governors did there was more like the voice of Jacob, the hands of Esau. They were programmed to say what they said, it was supposed to divide Igbo people, but it did not,” he noted.

 

“They suddenly realized that they can go under the terrorism act, but the terrorism act is not superior to the constitution. The constitution talks of fair hearing, so whatever you do and there is no fair hearing, it is a nullity. For instance, can I go to a chief judge and say you are the Maradona of Nigeria, court please accept it?  No, the court must first and foremost, ask me to serve you. When I serve you, then the court will hear from me who brought the action and hear from you. That’s the normal thing.

 

So, what both the governors did and what the Attorney General has just done, I think is just more like a character in a home video pretending to be acting something he is not. You cannot put something on nothing, and expect it to stand. That’s the law.”

 

In his own assertion, one time governorship aspirant in Lagos State and chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Barr. Okechukwu Okoroji maintained that the issue of terrorism does not arise, and that the judgment was illegal.

 

“The issue of terrorism does not even arise; the issue of legality is what we can look at. In the first instance, IPOB is not a registered organisation in Nigeria. I understand it is registered in the United States, in the UK and some other European countries, but to the best of my knowledge, it is not registered under the companies and under matters act, and therefore, it is not a legal body to sue and be sued,” he said.

 

“Notwithstanding, the government had exposed the ignorance of its officials with the errors they have already committed. First it was the Nigerian army that made the pronouncement that it is a terrorist organisation, which they didn’t know they had no right to make. All of a sudden, they woke up from their sleep, and realized that they had no right to do so.

 

“Then, they shifted it to the Attorney General who, to the best of my knowledge, is not competent to be Attorney General judging from his antecedents. He quickly rushed to court and arranged a judgment prescribing IPOB as a terrorist organisation without service to the organisation, without a representation of the defendants, and they believe that judgment will stand?” he queried.

 

“It certainly won’t stand. I have seen the order, the truth is that there is no good faith, these are actions born out of bad faith. Buhari and his administration have little or no understanding of the appropriate thing to do in the circumstance. They are just being driven by malice. For a start, IPOB is known to be a violent organisation, there was no evidence presented to court as a basis for that judgment.”

 

Okoroji described as cowardly, the decision of the governors in prescribing IPOB, noting that it was a testament to the fact that they lacked knowledge.

 

“The governors, including the Anambra State governor who feels he is the first target because election in the state is around the corner, and the man in Abia who feels that Nnamdi Kanu is from his state, and therefore the onus is on him, and we are not going to be talking about the cowardly Enugu State governor, and the one in Ebonyi. Of course, we already know that the Imo governor is Pro-Fulani governor, so you can understand where they are coming from.

 

“For different reasons, they felt that IPOB had to be proscribed. It only betrays their lack of knowledge, their lack of wisdom and their total disregard for the feelings of the people they are governing. It also shows that they have no meaningful team of lawyers guiding their pronouncements.

 

“Why would governors think it is right for them to have a meeting and make a pronouncement on an organisation of this nature? Not that they were making the pronouncements for their respective states as governors, a body or forum of governors does not have the capacity to make that pronouncement.

 

“But it is easy to understand why they were in a hurry to make that pronouncement. It smacks of cowardice and insincerity. This organisation has been in existence for over three years, now they want to impress their boss in Sokoto. But their boss in Sokoto of course, is not the boss of people of Eastern Nigeria,” he concluded.

 

Also speaking, politician and lawyer, Chief Ziggy Azike said the decision of the court cannot stand judicial rigour as according to him, there was no basis for it.

 

“They went and procured a judgment from the court, fortunately, the court is not a court of final jurisdiction. So, it’s an appealable matter and I have no doubt that the judgment will be quashed on appeal. The proscription was not done the way it should be done, and I’m sure that when it is subjected to judicial oversight on appeal, it would be quashed,” he said.

 

“There is no basis to prescribe IPOB as a terrorist group because the government is incapable of satisfying the provisions under the terrorist act. The judgment will not stand the evaluation of an appeal court.”

 

Chief Azike noted that the whole concept of operation Python Dance was badly intended and wrongly executed, even as he accused the military of attempting genocide.

 

“From the beginning, the entire Operation Python Dance was a provocative attack on the people, it was intended to provoke them, it was ill-intended, it was ill-executed, it was absolutely unwarranted and judging by the conduct of the soldiers that participated in that exercise, it is clear that one day, some of them will end up in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Because what they went there to execute is pure act of genocide, there is no doubt about it.

 

“They failed every test, they failed the test of respect for human right; they failed the test of proper conduct of a military exercise in a non violent area. They have not been able to rout the ragg-tag Boko Haram that have been killing them, they want to start to attack and Kill people who they said are defending themselves with stones and sticks.

 

“This is a military that seeks help from countries like Chad and Cameroon, but will go and flex muscle with unarmed people. So, it’s a disgrace; the entire Operation Python Dance is a disgrace to Nigeria.”

 

Speaking in defence of the governors however, the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha said the matter no longer has anything to do with them as according to him, it has been decided by the court. The governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo said the group’s proscription had gotten legal backing and therefore now stands.

 

“The court has proscribed it, so it’s not about the governors anymore. A court of competent jurisdiction has proscribed IPOB, so it is no longer a question of whether the governors did that or not,” he said. “The proscription now has a legal backing, and there is nothing anybody can do about it.”

© 2017, Hallmarknews. All rights reserved. Reference and link to this site is required if you wish to reuse any article.

Reactions from Facebook

comments and opinions

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Most Shared

Recent posts

  • Full Communique of MPC Meeting

    CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA COMMUNIQUÉ NO 120 OF THE MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE MEETING OF MONDAY 24th AND TUESDAY 25th SEPTEMBER, 2018 Background The Monetary Policy Committee (CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA COMMUNIQUÉ NO 120 OF THE MONETARY POLICY COMMITTEE MEETING OF MONDAY 24th AND TUESDAY 25th SEPTEMBER, 2018 Background The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met on […]

  • MPC retains interest rate at 14% for 13th consecutive times

    The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday for the retained the Monetary Policy Rate unchanged at 14 per cent for the 13th time. The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, announced the decision of the committee at the end of a two-day meeting held at the apex bank’s headquarters in […]

  • 2018 budget: FG to sell 10 state-owned companies to raise funds

    The Federal Government may put up 10 state-owned companies for sale in the fourth quarter of 2018 to raise N289 billion for the funding of the 2018 budget, Joe Anichebe, a director at the Bureau of Public Entreprises (BPE), has disclosed. Anichebe said preparations are in the final stages for the sales of the companies, […]

  • FG to sell 10 public assets in Q4 2018

    The Federal Government has concluded plans to sell 10 government-owned companies for sale to selected investors and the public in the fourth quarter to raise N289 billion toward funding the 2018 budget,Bureau of Public Entreprises (BPE) has disclosed. According to Bloomberg report, preparations are in the final stages to begin the sale of the companies […]

  • Modric defeats Ronaldo, Salah to emerge FIFA’s Footballer of the Year 2018

    Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric has been named the Best Men’s Player at The Best FIFA Football Awards on Monday evening, fighting off competition from fellow nominees Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah. The award caps off an incredible year for Modric, who won his fourth Champions League title with Real Madrid in May, […]

  • Nigerian bond market witnesses low demand

    A slowdown in client demand characterizes the bond market on Monday, unlike sentiments witnessed for the most part of last week. This is on the back of expected renewed supply at the bond auction on Wednesday, where the Debt Management Office (DMO) would raise a total of N90billion from the 2023, 2025 and 2028 maturities. […]

  • Oil price climbs to four-year high as Saudi, Russia turn Trump down

    Oil prices have hit a four-year high of over $81 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and Russia rejected calls by Donald Trump to increase production. Brent crude hit its highest level since November 2014 at $81.16 a barrel, up 3 per cent on the day. Saudi Arabia led the c oil cartel, while Russia is […]

  • Buhari releases N22bn to Nigerian Airways retirees

    The Federal Government has released N22.68 billion to settle part of the retirement benefits of former workers of the defunct Nigeria Airways. The government has also approved the release of N20 billion to revitalise public universities in line with demands of the Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU). Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, made the disclosure […]

  • MPC set for another policy freeze

    By FELIX OLOYEDE Despite the outcry for lower domestic interest rates, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is expected to leave the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent as it responds to inflation jitters ahead of the 2019 general elections, say economists. The MPC meeting schedule to hold today, Monday 24th 2018 and Tuesday […]

  • Ambode fights for his political life

    By OBINNA EZUGWU It is no longer news; the political love affair in Lagos state is in trouble. For the first time since 1999, a sitting governor is facing a real challenge from his own party for the ticket. The indignity can only be imagined and its implications continue to reverberate across the state and […]

  • Adeosun: Betrayed by a dysfunctional system (Editorial)

    A fortnight ago, former Finance Minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, resigned her position following the report of an investigative panel into allegations of NYSC certificate forgery against her. The allegation had been earlier made by an online newspaper, Premium Times, and the nation was agog with speculations about it. Her resignation has been interpreted by most […]

  • High cost of Nomination Forms: A conspiracy against the youths

    From PETER OKORE, Umuahia Amidst the mixed feelings trailing the high cost of Nomination Forms for interested candidates to participate in the 2019 general elections, there is growing consensus for the electorate should go for credible candidates rather than political parties in order to achieve desired results. This is because since some political parties in the […]

  • Govt bottlenecks still inhibiting agric business– Farmfields CEO

    Mr. Zanau Hassan Maikasuwa is the CEO of Farmfields Agro-allied Services, an agro-allied consulting and supply firm located in Jalingo, Taraba State. He is an ardent agricultural expert and a strong believer of improving agricultural methods for an improved and more rewarding agricultural sector in Nigeria. In this interview with BLESSING PETER, he assessed the […]

  • China and Nigeria’s debt burden

    By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA Experts have raised the alarm over the continued foray of Chinese businesses and massive funds into Nigeria, saying it portend danger for the country. They argued that the nation risk falling into debt trap, joblessness, among other costs, as is being experienced by several Africans countries. Available data indicate that apart from the […]

  • New Banks fight for survival 

    By OKEY ONYENWEAKU A clutch of new financial institutions are beginning to slowly appear on Nigeria’s banking scene as the once fragile economy wriggles out of a recession that held sway between the middle of 2015 and the second quarter of 2017. The renewed institutional confidence in the economy (which has grown more recently at […]

  • Gov poll: Stalemate in Osun as APC, PDP live to fight another day

    The Independent National Electoral Commission on Sunday declared the Osun State governorship election inconclusive. The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ademola Adeleke, had polled 254,698 votes against that of the All Progressives Congress, Gboyega Oyetola, who polled 254,345 votes. However, due to irregularities which marred the election at some polling units in Ife North, […]