Court removes ban on IPOB, awards Kanu N8bn
By Matthew Atungwu
Justice A. O. Onovo of the Enugu State High Court ruled on Thursday that the South-East Governors’ Forum’s proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra was unlawful, unconstitutional, and void.
According to reports, IPOB activities were banned in 2017 by the South-East Governors Forum, which was headed by former Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi. Three days after the development, IPOB was added to the Federal Government’s list of terrorist organizations.
Nonetheless, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu petitioned the court to have the prescription reversed through the representation of Mr. Aloy Ejimakor.
Kanu sought the court’s declaration that IPOB proscription was illegal as it was an organization “composed of citizens of Nigeria of the Igbo and other eastern Nigerian ethnic groups, professing the political opinion of self-determination.”
The IPOB leader prayed the court to declare his “arrest and consequent detention and prosecution as illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement of the applicant’s fundamental rights.”
He urged the court to make a declaration that “self-determination is not a crime and thus cannot be used as a basis to arrest, detain and prosecute the applicant.”
He then prayed the court to compel the defendants to pay him N8bn in damages “for the physical, mental, emotional and psychological trauma he was subjected to.”
In his judgment on Thursday, Justice Onovo agreed with Kanu and declared IPOB proscription “unconstitutional and illegal.”
He also ordered the defendants to pay him N8bn damages and to tender a public apology to him through newspaper publications.
Addressing journalists shortly after the judgment, Kanu’s lawyer, Ejimakor, said, “We are grateful that justice has prevailed over this matter since 2017. The court has reaffirmed the hopes of the common man in the judiciary. You have saved thousands of lives.”