Editor's note: Recently the personal assistant to the president on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, said it was needful to proscribe the group as the government does not want members of IPOB to hurt themselves in the process of agitating for the Biafra Republic.
Okoi Obono-Obla in this piece highlights the consequences of the proscription of IPOB by the federal government.
It is well settled that the Federal Government of Nigeria has proscribed the so-called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) after a Federal High Court presided over by the Acting Chief Judge, The Honourable Justice Abdul Kafarati granted an application filed by the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) pursuant to the power vested on him by Section 167 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Section 2 (1) (a) (b) & (c) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act , 2011(as amended).
Consequently, in accordance with Section 2 (2) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra) the proscription of IPOB was published in the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 99 dated 20th September, 2017, Vol. 104 as Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice, 2017.
Paragraph 2 of Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice (supra) provide thus:
‘’Consequently, the General Public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the said groups will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra)’’.
What are the legal consequences of membership of the proscribed IPOB?
Section 2 (3) (i) of Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra) provide thus:
‘’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’’.
What is the defence open to anybody charged with membership of the proscribed IPOB?
By Section 2 (4) Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra), it is a defence for a person charged under sub-section (3) of Section 2 (3) of the Act to prove that 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 or has been declared to be proscribed organization.
It is pertinent to note that from the date of the proscription of IPOB as shown in the Notice anybody who arranges manages or assists or managing or participates in a meeting or an activity which he knows is connected or provide logistics, equipment or facilities for a meeting, or an activity which he knows is connected with an act of terrorism or attends a meeting which he knows is to support a proscribed organization, or to further the objectives of a proscribed organization commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 10 years.
Further, from the date of proscription of IPOB anybody who knowingly, in any manner, solicits or renders support for an act of terrorism or a proscribed organization or an internationally suspected terrorist group or an offence under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 20 years.
By the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act for the purpose of sub-section (1) of Section 1 thereof, ‘’support ‘’ includes incitement to commit terrorism; offer of material assistance, weapons including biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, explosives, training, transportation, false documentation or identification ; offer or provision of moral assistance, including invitation to adhere to such a proscribed organization; and the provision of , or making available, such financial or other related services as may be prescribed in the Terrorism(Prevention) Act.
Can a proscribed organization be de-proscribed?
The answer is in the affirmative? A proscribed organization such a IPOB by virtue of the provisions of Section 2 (5) (a) & (b) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra) can be de-proscribed or withdrawn if the Attorney General of the Federation upon the approval of the President is satisfied that such proscribed organization has ceased to engage in an acts specified in subsection 1 of Section 1 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra) terrorism.
The terrorism acts prohibited by Section 1 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act include thus:
(1) A person who knowingly—
(a) does, attempts or threatens to do an act preparatory to or in furtherance of an act of terrorism;
(b) commits to do anything that is reasonably necessary to promote an act of terrorism; or
(c) assists or facilitates the activities of persons engaged in an act of terrorism, commits an offence under this Act.
(2) In this section, "act of terrorism" means an act which is deliberately done with malice, aforethought and which:
(a) may seriously harm or damage a country or an international organization;
By Section 1 (2) (a (b) (i-vi) (d) & (3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, ‘’acts of terrorism’’ means an act which is deliberately done with malice, aforethought and which:
(b) is intended or can reasonably be regarded as having been intended to—
(i) unduly compel a government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act;
(ii) seriously intimidate a population; (iii)seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization; or
(iv) otherwise influence such government or international organization by intimidation or coercion; and
(c) involves or causes, as the case may be—
(i) an attack upon a person's life which may cause serious bodily harm or death;
(ii) kidnapping of a person;
(iii) destruction to a Government or public facility, a transport system, an infrastructure facility, including an information system, a fixed platform located on the continental shelf, a public place or private property, likely to endanger human life or result in major economic loss;
(iv) the seizure of an aircraft, ship or other means of public or goods transport and diversion or the use of such means of transportation for any of the purposes in paragraph (b)(iv) of this subsection
(v) the manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport, supply or use of weapons, explosives or of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, as well as research into, and development of biological and chemical weapons without lawful authority
(vi) the release of dangerous substance or causing of fire, explosions or floods, the effect of which is to endanger human life;
(vii) interference with or disruption of the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource, the effect of which is to endanger human life;
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(d) an act or omission in or outside Nigeria which constitutes an office within the scope of a counter terrorism protocols and conventions duly ratified by Nigeria.
(3) An act which disrupts a service but is committed in pursuance of a protest. However, demonstration or stoppage of work is not a terrorist act within the meaning of this definition provided that the act is not intended to result in any harm referred to in subsection (2) (b)(i), (ii) or (iv) of this section.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
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Watch this NAIJ.com TV reporter asking Nigerians if the struggle for Biafra ends with the dissolution of IPOB: