…says Biafra is not a region in Nigeria
…court fixes Jan 17 to rule on motion to set-aside proscription order
The Federal Government, on Tuesday, alleged that the proscribed Indegeniuos People of Biafra, IPOB, were behind recent cache of arms that were intercepted in Lagos by the Nigeria Customs Service, NSC.
FG, while justfying its decision to apply for the IPOB to be outlawed, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that its investigations revealed that members of the group imported arms, comprising of pump action rifles, from Turkey.
It said the deal was brokered by a Turkish national that allegedly visited the ‘missing’ leader of the IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, shorty after he was released from detention.
The Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Akpata who represented FG, urged the Acting Chief Judge of the high court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, to dismiss the motion IPOB filed to quash the proscription order.
It will be recalled that Custom operatives had between January and September this year, intercepted about four containers laden with arms. 1,100 pieces of pump action rifles that were recovered at the Tin Can port, Apapa, Lagos, on September 19, brought the total of such arms that were seized since January this year, to 2, 671.
Meantime, in a 23-paged counter-affidavit it filed in opposition to IPOB’s motion dated September 21, FG, told the court that the secessionist group “have been associated with violent activities”.
It said: “Furthermore, the leader of the Respondent/Applicant, one Nnamdi Kanu has been openly advocating for armed struggle via his speeches, calling Nigeria a zoo, threatening that Nigeria will burn if he is arrested, etc. The intent of the Respondent/Applicant from the onset is to cause confusion and plunge the country into crisis.
“That Biafra is not a region in Nigeria and there are also no States known as Biafran States under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“That in opposition to the depositions in paragraph 6 of the supporting affidavit, I am aware that the Respondent/Applicant’s activities havr been targeted at causing a violent break up of Nigeria.
“That as a confirmation of the fact that the intentions of the Respondent/Applicant from the onset is to cause a violent breakdown of law and order in Nigeroa, Nnamdi Kanu openly solicted for arms to wage war against Nigeria at the World Igbo Congress held in California, USA in 2015.
“That a Turkish citizen, Abdulkadir Erkahraman, visited Nnamdi Kanu the leader of thr Respondent/Applicant in Isiama Afara, Umuahia, Abia State sometimes in July 2017, and has been canvassing support for the secessionist agenda of the Respondent/Applicant. He also admonished ‘Biafrans to rise up and fight a good fight for freedom’.
“That the Nigerian Customs Service had on four occassions this yeat intercepted pump action rifles totalling 2,671 illegally imported into the country from Turkey”.
FG insisted that the proscription order was obtained based on events it said occurred mostly after Justice Binta Nyako before whom Kanu and four other pro-Biafran agitators are facing five-count treasonable felony charge, had earlier declined to declare IPOB a terrorist organisation.
It argued that Justice Nyako did not however rule that IPOB was a lawful organisation.
“The court only ruled that there was no evidence before the court to show that the Respondent/Applicant is an unlawful or proscribed societu as at then in order to justify the count 3 in Charge No. FHC/Abj/CR/383/15 whic relates to managing an unlawful society”.
It told the court that activities of IPOB “has been hampering effective policing of the South East region”, adding that the Inspector General of Police had directed his men to deal decisively with Biafra agitators who it said ordered closure of markets and restriction of movement in the South East to mark the Biafra Day celebration.
More so, it alleged that IPOB members had on September 14, launched vicious attacks on police formations that resulted in the total destruction of Ariaria Police Divisional Headquarters in Aba, theft of police weaponry, attacks on police patrol teams.
It said that a good number of police personnel have sustained varying degrees of injuries while one policeman died in the Aba attack, adding that a commercial bank was also attackes with its ATM machines damaged by IPOB members.
Aside its allegation that IPOB members in Oyigbo LGA of Rivers State had on September 12 mobilised and attacked some northerners in the area, FG further told the court that a police sergeant, Mr. Stephen Daniel and one Umar Mainasara, a shoe shiner, were killed by the attackers who its said carted away an AK 47 Rifle belonging to the slain policeman after they burnt two police vans.
“That the Commissioner of Police in Abia State, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, disclosed on 13th October, 2017 that patrol bombs, double-barrel gun were recovered from the residence of Nnamdi Kanu and that training of Biafra Secret Service members were still ongoing after the proscription of IPOB.
“That a detailed report on the violent activities of members of the Respondent/Applicant against security personnel and other citizens as well as their inciting speeches (particularly by Nnamdi Kanu) as compiled by the Office of the National Security Adviser are attached herewith and marked as Exhibit FGN 8”, FG added in the counter-affidavit that was deposed to by one Ayuba Adam.
More over, FG told the court that “the leader of Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, and founder of the renowned Movement for Actualisation of Soverign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Ralph Uwazuruike, attested to the violent conducts of IPOB members”.
It said that Uwazuruike attested that the modus operandi of IPOB negates the principles of non-violence in the achievement of self-determination for Biafra independence and also expressed worry that the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB always pretended to be non-violent but preached violence.
“That aside from threatening to stop Anambra governorship election in November, Nnamdi Kanu has also stated that there would be no elections in the other four South East States in 2019”.
It said there was no bloody onslaught in Kanu’s house during the Operation Python Dance II, adding that is not responsible for the whereabouts of the IPOB leader.
FG mainatined that there was no report to the Nigerian Police Force to the effect that Kanu was missing.
It said that Kanu “has deliberately gone into hiding ostensibly to avoid his adjourned trial and also to avoid the likely legal consequences of the activities of himself and his group”.
FG decried that Kanu had through Radio Biafra, labelled Nigeria as a zoo which he said should be razed down, as well as called President Muhammadu Buhari unprintable names.
“He also claimed that the Nigerian government hired a Sudanese man to come and impersonate President Buhari”.
It told the court that part of the factors that fueled crisis that culminated in the Rwandan genocide was the labeling of the Tutsis as cockroaches who should be exterminated.
However, the IPOB, in a motion it filed pursuant to Section 6(6) (1) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, maintained that the proscription order “was made without jurisdiction”, adding that it was “granted against an entity unknown to law”.
IPOB, through its lawyer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, queried the legal validity of the order it said was surreptitiously obtained by the AGF.
Meanwhile, Justice Kafarati has fixed January 17 to rule on whether or not the order that proscribed the IPOB as a terrorist organisation should be vacated.
It will be recalled that court had in a ruling on September 20, outlawed IPOB on the strength of an ex-parte motion the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, filed on behalf of the government.
Justice Kafafati declared as illegal, all activities of the group, particularly in the South-east and South-South regions of the country.
He further restrained “any person or group of persons from participating in any of the group’s activities”.
The Judge directed the AGF to ensure that he published the order proscribing IPOB in the official gazette, as well as in two national dailies, an order FG had since complied with. (Vanguard)