Sequel to the comments and the stand of the US Government on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), when it was proscribed by the Nigerian Government last month, the Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria and its spokesman, Russel Brooks, have been dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The Federal Government last month secured an ordered of the court proscribing IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
But the US Embassy, through its spokesman said IPOB is not a terrorist organisation under US laws.
In the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/977/17, dated and filed on October 11, 2017, the plaintiff, Nze Charles Ugwu, through his lawyer, Simon Kanshio.
Ugwu claimed that Nigerian laws are not inferior to laws of other countries and that the statement by Brooks was to undermine the sovereignty of the Nigerian state, which is anchored on its constitution.
He, therefore, wants the court to compel the spokesman to withdraw his statement and declare the embassy as a promoter of terrorists activities in line with the Terrorism Act.
The plaintiff asked the court to determine the following questions:
*Whether by a true interpretation of Sections 1, 4 and 5 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 and the United Nations Convention on Terrorism the 1st Defendant’s statement endorsing the proscribed terrorist group named Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) does not amount to promoting terrorism in Nigeria?
*Whether the United States of America represented in Nigeria through the 2nd Defendant is no longer obligated to be bound by the United Nation Convention on Terrorism which the United States of America signed and ratified?
*Whether the 3rd Defendant as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation is not duty bound under the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 to advise President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to declare the 1st Defendant a persona non grata for supporting the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a proscribed terrorist group, thereby promoting terrorism in Nigeria?
Ugwu also prayed the court for the following reliefs:
* A declaration that by true interpretation of Sections 1, 4 and 5 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 and the United Nations Convention on Terrorism the statement of the 1st Defendant from the office of the 2nd Defendant endorsing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), an organization proscribed and labeled as a terrorist group by a Nigerian court presided over by Honourable Justice Abdul Adamu Kafarati on 19th September, 2017 is tantamount to supporting and inciting terrorism and violence in Nigeria.
*A declaration that the 1st and 2nd Defendants representing the United States of America in Nigeria are under absolute obligation to obey Nigerian laws both statutory and judicial so far as they are within the territory of Nigeria irrespective of their personal opinions, perceptions or ideologies.
*An order compelling the 1st and 2nd Defendants to withdraw their endorsement of the terrorist group named Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) within Seven (7) days of delivery of judgment in this case.
*An order directing the 1st Defendant to apologize to the Federal Government of Nigeria in Ten (10) national dailies upon delivery of judgement in this case as his statement endorsing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) despite the judgement of the court proscribing them as a terrorist group is an affront on the judiciary with the attendant effect of undermining the sovereignty of the Nigerian State.
The plaintiff, an indigene of Enugu State who resides in Kano State, in an affidavit in support of the suit said Nnamdi Kanu and his fellow members of IPOB went about his so called freedom agitation in a violent manner, which has led to killing of hundreds of persons and destruction of properties worth billions of naira within the last two years, thus necessitating the arrest of Kanu and some of his men.
He said Kanu, who is standing trial and is currently on bail, breached all his bail conditions and went about his agitation in a manner that is capable of inciting genocide against Igbos in the Northern part of the Country.
He said in the affidavit: “That I know as a fact that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu established his own Biafra National Guard (BNG) together with Biafra Secret Service (BSS) and was training men to raise arms against the Nigerian State.
“That I am know that recently the Nigerian Army had a clash with some boys trained by Mazi Kanu during the Operation Python Dance II, a routine operation which is usually carried out by the Nigerian Army, leading to the destruction of lives and properties.
“That the statements of Mazi Kanu who has gone about calling President Muhammadu Buhari names and calling the entire Nigeria a zoo and the people living therein as animals are capable of inciting and provoking genocide against we the Igbos in the Northern part of the country.
“That it was the above irresponsible name calling and provocation from Mazi Kanu and his men of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) that provoked the Arewa Youths Forum, who could not bear the insults anymore to issue a quit notice fixing 1st October, 2017 for the Igbos to vacant Northern Nigeria but all thanks to the elders and President Muhammadu Buhari for their prompt intervention and call for calm.
“That I know as a fact that if not for the timeous intervention of the Northern Elders Forum, President Muhammadu Buhari and the security operatives, the youths under the auspices of Arewa Youths Forum would have enforced their quit notice by violently vacating us from all states of the Northern Nigeria which would have led to the repeat edition of what happened in the year 1967 which was one of the immediate causes of the Biafran war.”