High Court in Enugu Declares IPOB Proscription Unconstitutional in Landmark Ruling
In a significant legal development, a High Court in Enugu has ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria and the South-East Governors to pay the sum of N8 billion and issue a formal apology to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), for violating his fundamental rights.
The court, presided over by Justice A. O Onovo, mandated the respondents to issue official letters of apology to Kanu for infringing on his rights and publish these apologies in three national dailies. Additionally, they are to jointly or severally pay the substantial sum of N8 billion to Kanu as monetary damages. This amount is intended to compensate Kanu for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, property, and other damages he suffered as a result of the violations of his fundamental rights.
The court also declared as unconstitutional the proscription and designation of IPOB as a terrorist organization by the Federal Government and the South-East Governors. This ruling stems from a suit brought before the court by the IPOB legal team led by Aloy Ejimakor, challenging the 2017 proscription of IPOB as a terrorist organization.
Justice A. O Onovo, while delivering the judgment, declared that “the practical application of the Terrorism Prevention Act and the executive or administrative action of the Respondents (Southeast Governors Forum and the Federal Government) which directly led to the proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist group,” was unconstitutional.
The court further emphasized that IPOB comprises citizens of Nigeria from the Igbo and other Eastern Nigerian ethnic groups, professing the political opinion of self-determination. It ruled that the arrest, detention, and prosecution of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu as a member and leader of IPOB are illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, and constitute an infringement of his fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions based on his ethnicity, as guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and his fundamental rights as enshrined under Articles 2, 3, 19, and 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Enforcement and Ratification) Act.
This landmark ruling asserts the right to self-determination and sets a precedent in the protection of fundamental rights in Nigeria. The court’s decision sends a clear message about the importance of respecting the rule of law and upholding citizens’ rights.
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