Justice A. O. Onovo of the Enugu State High Court, Thursday, declared the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra by the South-East Governors’ Forum as illegal, unconstitutional, and null and void.
The South-East Governors Forum, led by former Gov David Umahi of Ebonyi State, proscribed IPOB activities. The development led to the Federal Government listing IPOB as a terror organisation three days later.
However, IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, through his counsel, Mr Aloy Ejimakor, approached the court to seek the reversal of the prescription.
Kanu sought the court’s declaration that IPOB proscription was illegal as it was an organisation “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.”