I have seen people alluding to the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013, which they erroneously rely on in defending the illegal designation of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the Defence Headquarters.
According to them, the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 which provides for the procedure for designating a group as a terrorist organisation is no longer in operation having been superseded by the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013.
It has also been contended that there is no requirement for the order of the Court before such designation can be made. It is said that the 2013 Act dispensed with such condition.
The above submissions are wholly wrong and cannot be correct by any stretch of statutory construction.
First, the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 was never repealed by the National Assembly at any time. The National Assembly only amended few sections of the Act in 2013.
Second, by virtue of Section 2 of the 2011 Act, the Attorney General, National Security Adviser or the Inspector General of Police can apply to the Federal High Court, with the approval of the President, to proscribe a group as a terrorist organisation. Note that such application cannot be made without the authorisation of the President.
Third, Section 2 of the 2011 Act was never part of the sections amended in 2013. It was neither deleted nor substituted. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis for the suggestion that the law on the subject has changed.
Four, it will unwise to give security agencies powers to determine which group is a terrorist organisation without reference to the Court. Giving such powers to the Executive branch and security agencies will be dangerous.
Section 40 of the Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly and association. That right is sacrosanct. It cannot be taken away without the due process of the law. Even in a military dictatorship, Decrees and Edicts were resorted to or promulgated before the rights of the citizens were suspended and taken away.
Five, a lawful organisation may carry out its activities in an unlawful manner. What should be done is not to proscribe the organisation, rather, the illegal acts should be visited with relevant sanctions in the penal laws of the land.
Six, those who contend that seeking the order of the court will delay and hinder the security agencies are misguided. Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 clearly states that the application is to be made to a Judge in chambers. This means ex parte, i.e, in the absence of the other party. There is no delay.
For the doubting ‘Thomases’, I have attached the screenshots of all the sections of the 2011 Act which were amended in 2013 to this post. You will see that Section 2 is not included.
I have also attached the entire Section 2 of the 2011 Act.
They are both written in English. If you still cannot see through the illegality of the military, it means that you were never interested in the law.
We are not in a military regime. President Buhari did not assume office through a coup d’e’tat but through a democratic process; election. Therefore, the President is bound to comform to the dictates of the law.
Those who have chosen to support impunity should remember that people sacrificed their lives to restore democracy in Nigeria.
The fact that the illegality of the military and the Nigerian government feeds into your ethnic, sectional or political narratives does not mean that you should throw caution to the wind.
I conclude by reinforcing that as at today, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) IS NOT a terrorist organisation.
We can debate on whether the actions and statements of the group and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, qualifies them to be regarded as a terrorist organisation. However, only a Judge of the Federal High Court can make a legal and binding determination. The military is entitled to its opinion but they cannot supplant the Court.