Embattled leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has filed a lawsuit against the Nigerian government and its leaders over the organization’s banishment.
In order to prevent his arrest, detention, and prosecution, the IPOB leader is requesting a ruling that self-determination is not a crime.
The case was brought before the Enugu State High Court.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria, President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Governor of Ebonyi State, and South East Governors Forum were listed as Respondents 1st through 5th in the lawsuit with the filing number E/20/2023.
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The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Section 42 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended), Order II Rules 1 and 2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, and under the Court’s jurisdiction as preserved by Sections 6 and 46 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s constitution (as amended).
As the Applicant, the detained IPOB leader is suing both individually and on behalf of all IPOB members.
Kanu asks the court, among other things, to stop the Respondents from moving forward with “any criminal prosecutions of the Applicant and members of IPOB on the basis of the said proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist group,” in the lawsuit he filed through his special counsel, Aloy Ejimakor.
He claimed that the proscription of IPOB and its designation as a terrorist organization is illegal under section 42 of the 1999 constitution as amended and under articles 2, 3, and 19 and 20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Enforcement and Ratification Act).
He argued that “professing the political opinion of self-determination and the consequent arrest, detention and prosecution of the Applicant as a member/leader of said IPOB is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional”.
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He sought among others: “A DECLARATION that the practical application of the Terrorism Prevention Act and the executive or administrative action of the Respondents which directly led to the proscription of IPOB and its listing as a terrorist group, said IPOB being comprised of citizens of Nigeria of the Igbo and other Eastern Nigerian ethnic groups, professing the political opinion of self-determination and the consequent arrests, detentions, prosecutions and extrajudicial killings of the members of the said IPOB is illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of their fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions on the basis of their ethnicity as enshrined and guaranteed under Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and their fundamental rights as enshrined under Articles 2,3,19 &20 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Enforcement and Ratification) Act.
“A DECLARATION that self-determination is not a crime and thus cannot be used as a basis to arrest, detain and prosecute the Applicant and members of IPOB.
It further argued, “For clarity and contrasting, examples of such other similarly-situated groups of other ethnicities to which same disabilities or restrictions are not subjected include the following: I. the Arewa Youth Forum (mainly of Hausa/Fulani ethnic stock). II. The Odua Peoples Congress (mainly of Yoruba ethnic stock. IIII. The Miyeti Allah (mainly of Hausa/Fulani). IV. The Niger Delta Avengers (mainly of Ijaw ethnic stock). V. The notoriously murderous Fulani Herdsmen (mainly of Fulani ethnic stock). In particular, the Fulani Herdsmen which has never been proscribed, nor declared a terrorist organization in Nigeria has, nonetheless, been internationally declared as the 4th deadliest terrorist organization in the world.”