On Monday 18th September, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has condemned the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization, saying that it is unconstitutional.
He also condemns the South-East Governors decision on the IPOB, saying that the ban from the South-East Governors to the IPOB group did not follow due process.
He also stated that the National Assembly would look into the problems in the South-East.
The Senate President acknowledged the Nigerian Army for maintaining peace and calmness in the South-East but noted that declaring the IPOB group as a terrorist organization did not follow the normal process.
He said: I also wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra by the governors of the South-East states and the categorisation of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and do not follow due process.
Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions, and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect. I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process.
This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operates by laid down process under every circumstance. So, those who have been hammering on this point should maintain their cool.
But Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, the Chief Whip, House of Representatives attacks the Senate President statement as a ‘mere political statement’ that shows that the Senate President is ‘controversial leader’.
I am sure the Senate President was only expressing his personal opinion, which I further believe was not a good one in the given circumstances. The Nigerian Armed forces in my opinion are doing their best professionally and in the best interest of a united Nigeria. Even the south-eastern state governors have declared the activities of Kanu’s IPOB as illegal and therefore proscribed. He (Senate President) can’t cry more than the bereaved.
For me, the recent comment made by the Senate President on this matter was a mere political statement that would only portray him as a controversial leader. Considering the attacks meted out to innocent Nigerians by the IPOB group in the South-East and indeed the nationalistic conduct of the northern governors and the prompt action they took to stop possible reprisals in the North, the Senate President’s statement was to say the least unnecessary.
Few other political Leaders also reacted to the statement by the Senate President. Some commended the Nigerian Military and south-East Governors while they share their opinion on the declaration of IPOB as a Terrorist Organisation while some said that the Nigerian Military did not follow the right and due process of the country Nigeria.
A lawmaker representing the Kaduna central, Senator Shehu Sani, also opposed the comment of the Senate president. He also said that he is supporting those who opposed the Senate President Statement.
Senator Jeremiah Useni, another lawmaker representing Plateau South Senatorial District also a retired Lieutenant General, supported the Military Exercise ‘Operation Python Dance II’ stating that the IPOB are terrorist.
They are terrorists. They should not criticise the military, they are terrorists; they are killing people and the government should deal with them.
Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff also reacted to the Senate President statement stating that the declaration from the Military followed the Nation’s Constitution.
He also said:
What the Defence Headquarters said was to make a pronouncement, it was not a declaration, but this has given room for the right step to be taken. I think the government is doing the right thing, it is not that we overstepped our bounds, we are still within the limits of the law.
What the military said was to set the ball rolling and to bring to the awareness of the public that this is what this organisation is about. I am happy that the government has done the right thing rightly.
Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN), the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association also said that the declaration from the Nigerian Army is not in the constitution of Nigeria and nobody has the right to name a group a terrorist organization except the court
Access to Justice, a Human Rights Advocacy Group also condemns the Nigerian Military’s declaration of IPOB as a terrorist Organisation, contending that the Nigeria Army had no power to make such statement.
Dr Adenike Aiyedun, A2J, the deputy director of the Access to Justice group said,
The Nigerian military, however, does not have the right to declare any group a terrorist organisation and doing so usurps the powers and responsibility of political branches of government. These ones alone can make such a declaration.