Nigeria’s separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has officially been tagged an illegal and terrorist entity by a Federal High Court in the capital, Abuja.
The government, represented by the Attorney General, Abubakar Malami, had filed a suit against IPOB, praying the court to declare IPOB’s activities as illegal and amounting to terrorism.
A further order was to proscribe the group and all others who champion causes similar to it. All the reliefs were granted by the court.
The development is the latest in the government and army’s back and forth with IPOB. The Army last week declared the group a terrorist organization but the Army chief this week described it more as a pronouncement rather than a declaration.
The Army, prior to their terrorist group pronouncement, had clashed with members of the group at the residence of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu has reportedly gone into hiding following the clashes at his family home in Umuahia in Nigeria’s south-eastern Abia State, amid claims that soldiers had engaged in extrajudicial killings of hundreds of Biafra supporters.
Governors of the Igbo-populated five south-eastern states have also proscribed the group in a joint communiqué. The army said last week that it was looking into a ‘humiliating’ abuse of Biafra members who were made to lie face down in muddy water by officers.
Meanwhile, Ndi-Igbo Germany (NIG), the umbrella organisation of all Igbo groups in Germany, has now reacted to the controversial operations of the Nigerian armed forces against IPOB.
In a statement signed by Maazi Peter Chukwuma Eze, group’s co-ordinator, NIG called for the “immediate and unequivocal withdrawal of all military troops from the streets of south-eastern Nigeria and back into the barracks”.
The Igbo organisation further called for thorough investigations into the military operations in the south-eastern states. “We demand that the Federal Government explain the exact nature of and reason behind the ongoing military aggression in a civilian territory under the macabre name “Dance of the Python, part 2” and that they situate and justify this within the legal ambit of the Nigerian Constitution,” NIG said.
The Igbo organisation called for the trial and punishment of any soldier or officer found to have been involved in the abuse of detainees in course of the controversial operations.
“We demand that the Nigerian government return to the rule of law and the courts of justice in pursuing its cases against any individuals against whom it has a case,” NIG said in the conclusion of the statement.
Kola Tella & Austin Ohaegbu