- ticket title
- Maina challenges EFCC to open debate on pension fraud
- I’m under serious pressure — Buhari
- Customs intercepts container load of illicit drugs in Lagos
- Buhari’s Visit: Umahi’s Political Fate Hangs In The Balance
- Buhari’s Achievements Laudable Despite Inheriting An Empty Purse – Lai Mohammed
Festus Ogun, a columnist, has faulted the Nigerian military for labeling Nnamdi Kanu and members the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) terrorists.
The writer on constitutional law and civil rights said this on Saturday in reaction to statement by Major General, John Enenche, Director Defence Information.
The military explained that the declaration was made for the following reasons: “The formation of a Biafra Secret Service; Claimed formation of Biafra National Guard; Unauthorised blocking of public access roads.
“Extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks; militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on 10 September 2017.
“Physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a check point on 11 September 2017 and also attempts to snatch their rifles.”
In reaction, Festus Ogun said IPOB got its mandate from the Constitution.
Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides that: “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.”
He stressed that it was unarguable that Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB members acted in the spirit of the law for setting up such an organisation.
“The Constitution freely grants to the citizens the right to peaceful assembly and association”, he noted.
“Having established that the IPOB acted constitutionally in establishing the organisation, the next question is: how is it a terrorist group? Does our law allow for freedom to establish a terrorist association under Section 40? For the last question, the answer is in the negative.
“There is no general definition of terrorism. Even Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 does not even define what terrorism is as a concept. It only described an ‘act of terrorism’.
“There are laid down procedures by which an organization can be labelled for terrorism in Nigeria. Whether The Defence Headquarters have followed the rules is both a question of fact.
“Section 2(1)(c) provides that setting up or pursuing acts of terrorism the judge in chambers may on an application made by the Attorney General of the Federation, National Security Adviser or Inspector General of Police on the approval of the President declare any entity to be a proscribed organisation and the notice should be published in official gazette.
“Obviously, The Defence Headquarters hasn’t followed the above provision. It, therefore, follows that the proscription and “terrorization” of IPOB is unlawful and illegal.
“They have acted beyond their powers. Since we are in a democratic era where the rule of law is in place, the military cannot just wake up and label an organisation with terrorism by issuing out press statement like a military Head of State issuing decree. It doesn’t work that way in a democracy. The necessary provisions ought to be followed.
“Even in a situation where an organisation is proscribed having followed the due process of law, Section 2(4)(5)(a)(b) provide for an organisation to challenge such proscription in court,” he added.
Ogun, however, urged the Nigerian government to apply wisdom in handling the the matter rather than labelling a group agitating for self-determination terrorists.
“Declaring it a terrorist group will not help matters. It will only succeed in adding fire to the blazing flame”, he concluded.