Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, has dragged the governor of Ebonyi State, Engr Dave Umahi, and the Southeast Governors’ Forum to court for proscribing IPOB.
It would be recalled that the Southeast Governors’ Forum, which is being chaired by Gov Umahi, proscribed all activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The governors, after their meeting held in Enugu prior to the banning of the pro-Biafra group, said the ban would be totally enforced in their respective states, as contained in their eleven-point communique issued after the meeting.
The suit filed at the High Court of Enugu State by Kanu’s special counsel, Barr Aloy Ejimakor, has Kanu as the applicant on behalf of IPOB. Other respondents aside Umahi and Southeast governors, are President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government, and the attorney general of the federation.
According to the case, Kanu wants 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 is ‘illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and amounts to infringement’ of his ‘fundamental right not to be subjected to any disabilities or restrictions on the basis of his ethnicity as enshrined and 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’.
Kanu further wants the court to determine, among others, that self-determination is not a crime and thus cannot be used as a basis to arrest, detain and prosecute him and members of IPOB.
He also prayed: “An order of injunction restraining and prohibiting the respondents from taking any further step in 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.
“An order mandating and compelling the respondents to forthwith release the applicant and all members of IPOB from detention and to desist from any further arrests, detentions, prosecutions and extra-judicial killings of the members of the IPOB.
“An order mandating and compelling the respondents, jointly or severally, to issue official letter (s) of apology to the applicant and members of IPOB for the infringement of their said fundamental rights; and publication of said letter(s) of apology in three national dailies.
“An order mandating and compelling the respondents to, jointly or severally, pay the sum of N25,000,000,000.00 to the applicant, and the sum of N500,000,000,000.00 to members of IPOB, being monetary damages claimed by the applicant and members of IPOB against the respondents jointly and severally for the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, property and other damages suffered by the applicant and members of IPOB as a result of the infringements of their fundamental rights by the respondents.”
Ejimakor, in the suit, pleaded with the court that, “Unless the respondents are restrained by an order of this Honorable Court, the applicant will continue to suffer the infringement of his fundamental rights.”
Ejimakor further prayed the court to grant the application to restore Kanu’s fundamental rights, thereby entitling him to remedies for the said infringements and save the applicant from being subjected to further infringements.
No date has been fixed for the hearing.
Kanu is being detained at the custody of the Department of the State Services in Abuja over alleged running a proscribed group (IPOB), treason and jumping bail.
The federal government refused to release him despite many court rulings in his favour, including the October 13, 2022 Court of Appeals judgement in Abuja which ruled that the manner he was brought to Nigeria from Kenya amounted to extra-ordinary rendition, and acquitted him.
Prior to that, an Umuahia High Court, in a suit by Barr Ejimakor, had ruled that Kanu did not jump bail in 2017, rather the invasion of his country home by the military violated his fundamental human rights, having been on bail. He was awarded damages.