The Federal Government has formally notified the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other foreign countries about the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the designation of the group as a terrorist organisation.
The Federal High Court in Abuja had, on August 20, made an order proscribing the group upon an ex parte application by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).
The proscription order was published in the Federal Government’s gazette on the same day it was issued.
The US and the UK had indicated that they did not consider IPOB a terrorist group.
Malami, however, said on Wednesday that the foreign governments had been duly notified of the proscription of the group.
The minister, according to Punch, also said that the Federal Government would be seeking a Mutual Legal Assistance from the foreign governments to cut off the funding of the group and deal with it and its members as terrorists.
“They (the foreign countries) have been communicated formally and a mutual assistance request has been generated requesting them to deal with them (IPOB) as terrorist, block their accounts and sources of funding, among others,” Malami said.
When asked to give the identities of the specific embassies served with the letter, a top official of the Federal Ministry of Justice said, “Just think of any embassy you know is operating in Nigeria, they have all been served.”
“All we did was to send copies of the gazettes attached to the cover letters to notify them of the status of IPOB as far as Nigeria is concerned.
“Although the proscription widely reported in newspapers, has been published in the Federal Government’s gazette and advertised in newspapers as ordered by the court, we had to formalise it by notifying our foreign friends, I mean the foreign governments, which have embassies in Nigeria; and that was exactly what we did by sending copies of the gazette to them.”
It was learnt that the letters, with copies of the Federal Government’s gazette, publishing the order of Justice Abdu Kafarati of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which proscribed IPOB, were served on a majority of the foreign missions in Abuja on September 27.
The gazette, with commencement date of September 20, 2017, reads in part, “Consequently, the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the said groups will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended) and liable to prosecution.
“This notice shall be cited as the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice, 2017.”
In his reaction on Wednesday, however, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer for proscribed group and Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, said the international community had been notified that the proscription order issued against IPOB was being challenged in court.
He said the group’s motion had been slated for hearing before Justice Kafarati on October 23.
Ejiofor stated, “The fact is that each foreign country has its own laws that govern its state. Before now, America has told Nigeria that IPOB is not seen as a terrorist organisation.
“So, as far as we are concerned, once the countries are not satisfied with the claim that IPOB is a terrorist organisation, the letters being written by the Ministry of Justice does not have the force of law and will not be given effect by the international community.
“The international community knows that the proscription of IPOB and designating it as a terrorist organisation has political undertone. So they will not give such letter any recognition.
“It is also important to state that we have filed our application to vacate the proscription order and the hearing is coming up on October 23.” (Punch)