In a significant ruling, Justice A. O. Onovo of the Enugu State High Court declared the proscription of the Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the South-East Governors’ Forum as illegal, unconstitutional, and null and void.
The Controversial Proscription of IPOB
In 2017, the South-East Governors’ Forum, led by former Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, issued a proscription of IPOB activities.
This move ultimately led to the Federal Government classifying IPOB as a terrorist organization just three days later.
IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, represented by his counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, approached the court to seek the reversal of the proscription.
Kanu argued that IPOB was an organization comprising citizens of Nigeria from the Igbo and other eastern Nigerian ethnic groups, advocating for the right to self-determination.
The Legal Battle: Kanu’s Fight for Rights
Kanu argued that his arrest, detention, and prosecution were illegal and a violation of his fundamental rights. Furthermore, he contended that self-determination is not a criminal offence and should not serve as the basis for arrest, detention, or prosecution.
He subsequently requested the court mandate the defendants to award him N8 billion in compensation “for the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological trauma he was subjected to.”
Justice Onovo’s Ruling
Justice Onovo concurred with Kanu’s arguments and declared the proscription of IPOB “unconstitutional and illegal.”
The court ordered the defendants to pay N8 billion in damages and issue a public apology to Kanu through newspaper publications.
Reactions and Implications: Upholding Justice
Following the judgment, Kanu’s lawyer, Ejimakor, expressed gratitude for the ruling and stressed the importance of justice in this matter.
He stated, “The court has reaffirmed the hopes of the common man in the judiciary. You have saved thousands of lives.”
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