Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) has explained why the Federal Government proscribed the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Malami said had the Fed Govt not acted on time, there could have been a replication of the Rwandan genocide in Nigeria.
He said some developments preceding the proscription order were worrisome, particularly the interception of 2,571 rifles illegally imported from Turkey, IPOB’s establishment of security outfits and the threat by its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to cause mayhem.
The AGF said these in a counter-affidavit he filed in response to an application by IPOB, challenging the proscription order.
He said contrary to IPOB’s claim that it was a non-violent group, its activities has led to the death of many in the Southeast region and was threatening the nation’s continued existence.
The AGF said: “In view of the worrisome smuggling of rifles from Turkey, the respondent/applicant’s (IPOB)’s secessionist agenda and links with Turkey, coupled with violent acts and speeches of Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors, the Federal Government of Nigeria had to act proactively by prescribing the respondent/applicant so as to curtail its violent activities before it snowball into an unmanageable one.
“Part of the factors that fuelled the crisis that culminated in the Rwandan genocide was the labelling of the Tutsis as cockroaches, who should be exterminated.
“Leon Mugesera asked Hutus to cut the neck of Tutsis and fled to Canada after the genocide. In April 2016, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for public incitement to commit genocide, persecution as crime against humanity and inciting ethnic-affiliated hatred.
“Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB is toeing the same path through Biafra Radio and by labelling Nigeria a zoo, which should be razed down, calling President Muhammadu Buhari unprintable names.
“He (Kanu) also claimed that the Nigerian government hired a Sudanese man to come and impersonate President Buhari.
“He was also quoted to have made the following incendiary statements: ‘No Igbo man should attend any church where the pastor is a Yoruba man, they are fools; any Igbo person, who attends any church pastored by a Yoruba man is an imbecile.
‘Pastor Kumuyi should be stoned and dealt with thoroughly if he comes to Aba for his planned crusade; Nigeria is a zoo and everybody living in that God forsaken zoo deserves to die; Nigeria should prepare for war, we are coming to annihilate you, my secret service are already studying the zoo and strategising.’
The AGF, in the counter affidavit, faulted clam by IPOB that Kanu has been abducted by the Nigerian military.
He said: “Nnamdi Kanu is not missing, rather he has deliberately gone into hiding ostensibly to avoid his adjourned trial and also to avoid the likely legal consequences of his activities and those of his group.”
The AGF noted that Kanu’s brother, Emmanuel, had claimed that the IPOB leader was not at home when soldiers allegedly invaded his brother’s home. He added that Kanu also told a television station that during the alleged invasion on September 15 this year, his father was almost shot.
Arguing the counter-affidavit yesterday, the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF), Dayo Akpata, urged the court to refuse the application by IPOB.
He among others said: “It is in the interest of justice, public peace, constitution order, territorial integrity of Nigeria and national security to refuse the respondent/applicant’s application.”
In an earlier argument, lawyer to IPOB, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, urged the court to among other set aside the proscription order.
He argued that not only was the court misled into making the order, the Federal Government acted fraudulently in procuring the order by hiding necessary facts from the court.
Ejiofor claimed that IPOB was a non-violent group, whose members were only interested in securing freedom for the Igbo people.
Justice Adamu Kafarati has adjourned to January 17 next year for ruling.