Justice A. O. Onovo of the Enugu State High Court delivered a significant judgment on Thursday, declaring the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by the South-East Governors’ Forum as illegal, unconstitutional, and null and void.
The background to this ruling dates back to 2017 when the South-East Governors’ Forum, led by former Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, proscribed IPOB activities. This action, in turn, prompted the Federal Government to designate IPOB as a terrorist organization three days later.
IPOB’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu, represented by his counsel, Mr. Aloy Ejimakor, approached the court seeking the reversal of the proscription. Kanu argued that the proscription was illegal, as IPOB was an organization of Nigerian citizens from the Igbo and other eastern Nigerian ethnic groups advocating for self-determination.
He also requested that his arrest, detention, and prosecution be declared illegal, unconstitutional, and a violation of his fundamental rights.
Additionally, Kanu sought a declaration that self-determination is not a crime and should not be the basis for arrest, detention, or prosecution. He further requested the court to compel the defendants to pay him N8 billion in damages for the physical, mental, emotional, and psychological trauma he endured.
In the judgment, Justice Onovo concurred with Kanu and ruled that the proscription of IPOB was “unconstitutional and illegal.” The court also ordered the defendants to pay N8 billion in damages to Kanu and to issue a public apology through newspaper publications.
Following the judgment, Kanu’s lawyer, Mr. Ejimakor, expressed gratitude for the court’s decision, noting that justice had prevailed in a matter that had been ongoing since 2017. He emphasized the importance of the ruling in upholding the hopes of the common man in the judiciary and potentially affecting the lives of thousands.