An Enugu High Court, presided over by Justice Anthony Onovo, has voided the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation.
The Federal Government under Muhammadu Buhari and governors of the South-East region had, in 2017, proscribed the secessionist group, while the leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was clamped into detention.
But the court, on Thursday 26th, declared that self-determination was not a crime and should not, therefore, be used as a basis to arrest, detain and prosecute the IPOB leader.
Kanu, through his Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, had in January this year, approached the court to seek nullification of the proscription and terrorist tag on the group, based on the fact that it is a registered organisation with membership exercising their right of association.
He had sought de-listing of the organisation as a terrorist group in line with the provisions of the African Charter and the 1999 Constitution (as amended), as well as restraining the government from proceeding with criminal proceedings against Kanu.
Delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Onovo agreed that the African Charter is binding on Nigerian courts.
He declared that in practical application of the Terrorism Prevention Act, the executive or administrative action of the South East Governors Forum (SEGF) and the Federal Government, which directly led to the proscription of IPOB, its listing as a terrorist group and the consequent arrest, detention and prosecution Kanu is illegal, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of his fundamental right.
The judge ordered the Federal Government and South East governors to issue official letter(s) of apology to Kanu for the infringement of his fundamental rights; and publication of the letter(s) in three national dailies.
The court awarded jointly or severally the sum of N8 billion to Kanu as monetary damages claimed against the Federal Government and South East governors for the physical, psychological, property and other damages he suffered as a result of the infringements on his fundamental rights.
Ejimakor commended the court as the last hope of the common man.
He stated: “We are grateful that justice has prevailed over this matter since 2017. The court has reaffirmed the hopes of the common man in the judiciary. You have saved thousands of lives.”