Following media reports of a recent judgement by the Enugu High Court against the Federal Government in a matter instituted by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) challenging its proscribed status as a terrorist movement, the Save Nigeria Movement (SNM) has taken a swipe at the IPOB leadership and their lawyers for prioritising media propaganda and blackmail instead of explaining to the courts the motivation for the wanton killings, maiming, raping and destruction of lives and property of Nigerians especially their fellow Igbo people.
SNM convener, Rev Solomon Semaka, while reacting to the Enugu High Court judgement delivered by Justice A. O Onovo who purportedly awarded 8Billion Naira in damages to a terrorist organization like IPOB against the Federal Government, insisted that such judgment is a blatant travesty of justice and abuse of court process by both the judge and IPOB counsels. The group insisted that Nigerians, particularly the Igbo people whose lives are daily cut short by the nefarious and evil activities of IPOB deserve a better deal and explanation on the illegality in the temple of justice. It is despicable for a judge to go below the minimum standard of regular court process to patronize a terrorist movement for whatsoever reason.
“When you take a cursory review of the said subject matter (Proscribed status) of IPOB and the events that precede the bizarre judgement, you will see clearly the desperation and deliberate intent of the terrorist organization lawyers and her leadership to sustain propaganda for public sympathy and more importantly for the financial gains associated with their terrorists activities, hence their endless legal escapades including shopping black market judgements.
The group recalled that in 2017, following the incessant and unjustified loss of thousands of lives of innocent citizens especially of Igbo people, security personnel and destruction of property worth billions of naira caused by IPOB, the Federal High Court in Abuja had proscribed the body as a terrorist organization. The landmark judgement received wide commendations from across the country.
In a follow-up ruling on January 22, 2018, at the instance of IPOB, the court dismissed a motion it (IPOB) filed to challenge the legal validity of the proscription order which it said was surreptitiously obtained by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). For the second time, they lost in their efforts to set aside the proscription. While Government has remained patience and taken the path of rule of law to deal with the IPOB case, the body rather prefers to grandstand because its business of violence is lucrative.
In the Enugu High Court matter, it is clear that both IPOB and her lawyers as well as the judge are out to achieve similar aims namely; individual and collective financial gains and to also jeopardize national security ”
“Otherwise, how else does any lawyer or judge worth his/her salt contemplate to litigate on a matter that the same IPOB had earlier lost in a January 22, 2018 ruling which dismissed IPOB’s application to set aside their proscribed status? Conceding without agreeing to the legality of the January 22 ruling, IPOB still filed an appeal against the ruling, making it the second appeal having lost in the main matter in 2017 ruling. This appeal on this same subject matter is still pending at the Court of Appeal to this day.
“Even lay people who are conversant with court processes understand that when a superior court of records like the Federal High Court passes a judgment, it can only be appealed to the court of appeals or at best, for the same court to set aside its earlier judgement ” Now, in this instance, IPOB had first, appealed against the 2017 judgement of the Federal High court which proscribed it as a terrorist organization, as earlier mentioned but the court in January 22, 2018 denied the application. IPOB, dissatisfied, went ahead to file an appeal at the Court of Appeal. The case is still pending in court and was last adjourned on October 17, 2023 according to reports ”
Flowing from above, the group wondered how a case decided by a Federal High court and which is still pending on appeal at the Court of Appeal found its way into the records of an Enugu State High Court, a lower court than the Court of Appeal or at best a court of coordinate jurisdiction with the Federal High court. Head or tail, the matter has no business in Enugu High court save for the reason of shopping a black market judgment. The group accused IPOB leaders and her lawyers of trying to legitimize terrorism using the Nigerian Courts funded by Federal Government in whose authority IPOB doesn’t believe and challenged them to explain to Nigerians while they had to against all known legal procedure rush to a state high court to set aside a judgement of the Federal High court which judgment is still a subject of pending appeal to this day. If IPOB could abandon an appeal they instituted on the same subject matter before a competent court of appeals in Abuja and rush to a high court in far away Enugu to upturn a Federal High court judgment, then it goes to confirm that IPOB and their lawyers have found willing judges who are ready to play ball against national security and the rule of law ”
“We all know that no judge in the South East can stand the intimidation of IPOB and their leadership perhaps because of the fear of death which is the least punishment for both innocent Ibos and those who seek to promote cohesion and national unity ” Rev Semaka advised judicial officers to show courage in the dispensation of justice without fear or favor in the overall interest of national security.
The group insists that it would petition the relevant authorities especially the National Judicial Council (NJC) to investigate the dubious judgement procured at the Enugu High court with a view to reversing the trend in the interest of national security, rule of law and in line with democratic values which Nigeria is known for; the statement added.