The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed an application by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) seeking to reverse the order designating the group as a terrorist organisation.
Justice Abdu Kafarati, Acting Chief Judge of the court, gave the ruling on Thursday, striking out the application filed by Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB.
Ejiofor had argued that since IPOB as an organization was not registered in Nigeria, it could not be sued in Nigeria.
However, Justice Kafarati held that an organisation registered abroad could be likened to a foreigner who could be arrested in another country if he or she is found to have committed a crime.
Therefore, he ruled that the proscription order against IPOB, made on September 20, 2017, was validly issued as it was consistent with the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act.
The IPOB was first designated a terrorist group by the Nigerian Military — in contravention of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 — after a number of violent clashes between the group and soldiers in the South East region.
But, following public outcry, Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation, filed a motion at the Federal High Court, seeking an official declaration to that effect.
Consequently, the court ordered “that the activities of the Respondent (Indigenous People of Biafra) in any part of Nigeria especially in the South–East and South–South Regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegality”, adding that anybody found guilty of participating in the group’s activities would be liable, on conviction, to a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
But several European countries and the United States of America said they did not see IPOB as a terrorist group.
The whereabouts of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the group, has remained unknown since September, when soldiers were alleged to have raided his country home in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
Kanu, together with three other defendants, is currently facing treason charges at the Federal High Court.