The Federal Government via the Defense Headquarters today declared the so-called Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) a militant terrorist Organization and urged parents to dissuade their wards from joining the group.
The defence headquarters went further to buttress its position what IPOB is a militant terrorist organization thus:
- Militant possession and use of weapons (stones, Molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles;
- The formation of Biafra Secret Service , claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorized blocking of public access roads and extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks;
- Physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a check point on September 11, 2017; and also attempt to snatch their rifles;
- Attacks by IPOB members on a military check point on September 12, 2017 at Isialangwa, where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female solder’s rifle.
We shall take recourse to the Terrorism (Prevention) (amendment) Act, 2013 to unrevealed definition of the term ‘’ terrorist organization’’.
Section 19 (h) (i-iv) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (amendment) Act defines the term ‘’ terrorism organization’’ thus:
‘’ Terrorist Organization’’ means any group of terrorist that-
(i) commits, or attempts to commit terrorist acts by any means, directly or indirectly, unlawfully and willfully,
(ii) participates as an accomplice in terrorist acts,
(iii) organizes or directs others to commit terrorist acts, or
(iv) contributes to the commission of terrorist acts by a group of persons acting with a common purpose where the contribution is made intentionally and with the aim of furthering the terrorist act or with the knowledge of the intention of the group to commit a terrorist act’’.
Another pertinent question is what is a terrorist act within the contemplation of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act (supra)?
Section 19 (f) (i-xii) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act (supra) defines ‘’ terrorist act’’ thus:
‘’inserting immediately after the definition of terrorism, the following definition ‘’ terrorism act’’ in addition to the provisions of the renumbered section 1 subsection (3) of the Principal Act, means an act which constitutes an offence according to the following agreements –
(i) commission or attempting to commit, terrorist acts intentionally by any means, either directly or indirectly,
(ii) participation as an accomplice in terrorist acts, or
(iii) organizing terrorist acts or directing others to commit such acts,
(iv) contributing to the commission of terrorist acts with a group of persons acting with a common purpose where the contribution is made intentionally and with the aim of furthering the terrorist act or with the knowledge of the intention of the group to commit a terrorist act;
(g) inserting after the definition of terrorist, the following definition-
(i) Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, 1970,
(ii) Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, 1971,
(iii) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons; including Diplomatic Agents, 1973,
(iv) International Convention against the Taking of Hostages, 1979,
(v) Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, 1980,
(vi) Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts of violence at Airports Serving International Civil Aviation, supplementary to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation, 1988,
(vii) Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation, 1988,
(ix) Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Fixed Platforms located on the Continental Shelf, 1988,
(ix) The International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing, 1997,
(x) The Convention against Terrorist Financing,
(xi) Convention on Offences and certain other Acts committed on Board Aircraft, and
(xii) Convention on the Making of Plastic Explosives for the purpose of Detection. Section 1 (1) (a) (b) (c) (2) (a) (b)(c),2(a)(b) (i)(ii) (iii) (iv),(c) (i-vii)& 3 of the Terrorism ( Prevention) Act , 2011 provide thus : 1. Prohibition of Acts of Terrorism.
(1) A person who knowingly—
(a) does, attempts or threatens to do an act preparatory to or in furtherance of an act of terrorism;
(b) commits to do anything that is reasonably necessary to promote an act of terrorism; or
(c) assists or facilitates the activities of persons engaged in an act of terrorism, commits an offence under this Act.
(2) In this section, “act of terrorism” means an act which is deliberately done with malice, aforethought and which:
(a) may seriously harm or damage a country or an international organization;
(b) is intended or can reasonably be regarded as having been intended to—
(i) unduly compel a government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act;
(ii) seriously intimidate a population; (iii)seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization; or
(iv) otherwise influence such government or international organization by intimidation or coercion; and
(c) involves or causes, as the case may be—
(i) an attack upon a person’s life which may cause serious bodily harm or death;
(ii) kidnapping of a person;
(iii) destruction to a Government or public facility, a transport system, an infrastructure facility, including an information system, a fixed platform located on the continental shelf, a public place or private property, likely to endanger human life or result in major economic loss;
(iv) the seizure of an aircraft, ship or other means of public or goods transport and diversion or the use of such means of transportation for any of the purposes in paragraph (b)(iv) of this subsection ; *
(v) the manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport, supply or use of weapons, explosives or of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, as well as research into, and development of biological and chemical weapons without lawful authority;
(vi) the release of dangerous substance or causing of fire, explosions or floods, the effect of which is to endanger human life;
(vii) interference with or disruption of the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource, the effect of which is to endanger human life ;
(d) an act or omission in or outside Nigeria which constitutes an office within the scope of a counter terrorism protocols and conventions duly ratified by Nigeria.
(3) An act which disrupts a service but is committed in pursuance of a protest. However, demonstration or stoppage of work is not a terrorist act within the meaning of this definition provided that the act is not intended to result in any harm referred to in subsection (2) (b)(i), (ii) or (iv) of this section.
Chief Okoi Obono-Obla is a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution and Chairman, Special Presidential Panel for the Recovery of Public Property