Proscription of IPOB is ‘unconstitutional’ – Saraki
Nigeria’s Senate President has said the categorisation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian military and its subsequent proscription by the Southeast governors were “unconstitutional and does not follow due process.”
Mr Bukola Saraki said until the government follow due process, labelling IPOB as a terrorist organisation would have no “effect” and that National Assembly will carry out a thorough investigation of the crises in the Southeast.
“Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect,” Saraki said in a statement on Monday.
“I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process.”
IPOB is demanding an independence for the Igbo people in Nigeria’s southeast. Its push for an independent Biafra became heightened since 2015, especially after the arrest and release of its leader Nnamdi Kanu by the government.
Kanu said his group was non-violent and would only use peaceful means its agitation.
“We have chosen the track of peaceful agitation, non-violence, persuasion, logic, reason, argument,” he told AFP in an interview in May.
“We are going to deploy all of that to make sure we get Biafra.”
But the Nigerian military last week said it categorised IPOB as “terrorist organisation” after analysing the group’s activities in recent weeks which it said were “clandestinely and actively” aimed at “terrorising the general public.”
Nigerian military spokesman Major General John Enenche said such activities included “the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads and extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal roadblocks, militant possession and use of weapons (stones, Molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles, among others) on a military patrol on September 10, 2017.”
However, Saraki insisted that military needed to follow due process and respect human rights even in the face of provocation. This, he said, will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at “large that we are a country that operate by laid down process under every circumstance.”
The Senate President also said the National Assembly will not be biased in its investigations.
“We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up. We intend to lay the facts bare.”