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Now that court has upheld IPOB’s terrorism designation, it’s death, 20 years in jail…
On Thursday, Justice Abdu Kafarati, Acting Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, upheld the designation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation.
Kafarati struck out an application by Ifeanyi Ejiofor, counsel to the IPOB, who argued that since the IPOB, as an organisation was not registered in Nigeria, it could not be sued in Nigeria.
He ruled that since a foreigner who commits a crime in another country could be arrested and prosecuted in that country, then IPOB, thought not registered in Nigeria, could be sued here if found to have violated the law.
With that judgement, the status of the IPOB as a terrorist group has been affirmed, with its attendant implications.
One of the implications is that anyone found guilty of belonging to IPOB, could be liable, upon conviction, to a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
According to section 2 (3) (i) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011: “a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organization commits an offence under this Act and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 20 years.”
However, Subsection (4) of the Act states that “It is a defence for a person charged under Sub-section (3) of this section to prove that the organization had not been declared a proscribed organization at the time the person charged became or began to profess to be a member of the organization and that he has not taken part in the activities of the organization at any time after it has been declared to be proscribed organization.”
Also, participation in activities of a proscribed organisation may fetch one a death sentence, especially when such activities lead to the death of another.
“Without prejudice to sub-section (2) of this section, where death results from any terrorist act, the penalty shall be death sentence,” states section 4 (2) of the Terrorism Prevention Act (2011).
However, in section 33 (e) of the Act, under the ‘Penalties’, it was stated that “where death results from any terrorist act, the penalty shall be life imprisonment”.
Other penalties listed in Section 33 are as follows:
(a) in the case of an offence under Sections 1 and 10 of this Act, to life imprisonment or to a fine of not less than 150 million Naira or both;
(b) in the case of an offence under Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 and 14 to an imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 years and not exceeding 20 years;
(c) in the case of an offence under Sections 6 and 7, to an imprisonment for a term of not less than 2 years and not exceeding 15 years;
(d) in the case of an offence under Sections 25 and 29 to a fine not exceeding N1,000,000.00 or an imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.