On Wednesday, September 20, 2017 the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja division presided over by the Acting Chief Judge, The Honourable Justice Abdul Kafarati granted the application of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria on an order declaring the Indigenous People of Biafra illegal and proscribing it as a terrorist organization.
Following the order, a senior legal practitioner, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa impetuously and immediately reacted that the Order is faulty in law because IPOB is not a registered association in Nigeria and therefore cannot sue and be sued.
It beats me hollow how Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa could take such a line of argument.
It as clear as the crystal that Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa never averted his mind to the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
The Terrorism (Prevention) Act did not stipulate that a body must be registered in Nigeria or elsewhere before it can be proscribed, within the contemplation of the provisions of Section 2 subsection 1 of the Act.
Indeed, Section 1 subsection (a-h) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2013 provides as follows thus: A person or body corporate who knowingly in or outside Nigeria directly or indirectly willingly:
does, attempts or threatens any act of terrorism,
commits an act preparatory to or in furtherance of an act of terrorism,
omits to do anything that is reasonably necessary to prevent an act of terrorism,
assists or facilitates the activities of persons engaged in an act of terrorism or is an accessory to any offence under this Act,
participates as an accomplice in or contributes to the commission of any act of terrorism or offences under this Act,
assists, facilitates, organizes or directs the activities of persons or organizations engaged in any act of terrorism,
is an accessory to any act of terrorism, or
incites, promises or induces any other person by any means whatsoever to commit any act of terrorism or any of the offences referred to in this Act, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to maximum of death sentence.
Section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act provides that where two or more persons associate for the purpose of or where an organization engages in-
Participating or collaborating in an act of terrorism,
Promoting, encouraging or exhorting others to commit an act of terrorism, or
Setting up or pursing 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 organization and the notice shall be published in official gazette.
From the foregoing, by virtue of the provisions of Section 2 (1) (a) (b) & (c) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act (supra), the argument of Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa that the so-called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) cannot be proscribed because it is not registered in the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not tenable, irrelevant and inapplicable.
Most important by the provisions of Section 62 of the Criminal Code, the proscribed IPOB is an unlawful society.
Section 62 (2) of the Criminal Code prohibits unlawful society such as IPOB which formation, aims, objectives and mission is advocacy for the levying of war against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section 62 (2) of the Criminal Code defines a society as unlawful:
(i) if formed for any of the following purposes‐
(a) levying war or encouraging or assisting any person to levy war on the Government or the inhabitants of any part of Nigeria; or
(b) killing or injuring or encouraging the killing or injuring of any pers-on; or
(c) destroying or injuring or encouraging the destruction or injuring of any property; or
(d) subverting or promoting the subversion of the Government or of its officials; or
(e) committing or inciting to acts of violence or intimidation; or
(f) interfering with, or resisting, or encouraging interference with or resistance to the administration of the law; or
(g) disturbing or encouraging the disturbance of peace and order in any part of Nigeria; or
(ii) if declared by an order of the President to be a society dangerous to the good government of Nigeria or of any part thereof.
Undoubtedly, IPOB is an unlawful society within the contemplation of Section 62 (2) of the Criminal Code.
Further, the President, Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari is vested with power by Section 62 (2) (ii) of Criminal Code by an order to declare that IPOB is an unlawful society which is dangerous to the good government of Nigeria or any part thereof.
Section 64 of the Criminal Codes provides that anybody who manages or assists in the management of unlawful society is guilty of a felony and is liable to a term of imprisonment of seven years.
Finally, facts have emerged that the proscribed IPOB was registered in the State of California, United States of America.
It goes without saying that by virtue of Section 53 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act is prohibited from doing business in Nigeria.
I, therefore, urge the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to initiate criminal prosecution under Section 54 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act against the promoters or members of the proscribed IPOB for illegally operating in Nigeria for the past two years.