IPOB’s death

On paper the Indigenous People of Biafra
(IPOB ) is dead . The five Governors of the
South East states proscribed the body a few
days ago. They , instead, advised all aggrieved
groups in the region to articulate their
positions on all national issues and submit
them to the Committee of Governors, Ohaneze
Ndigbo and the National Assembly members
from the region through the Chairman of the
South East Governors’ Forum .

The action of the governors is futile because
they have no power to ban any association ,
even a rascally one like the IPOB . The 1999
Constitution confers on groups and individuals
the freedom to associate . This order by the
governors is an infringement of that freedom
under the Constitution. The Governors’ Forum
is not a parliament that makes laws so its
pronouncement on IPOB is not a law.

However, each of the governments in the
region can get its House of Assembly to pass a
law banning IPOB but that law, if passed , will
be in conflict with the 1999 Constitution. The
Constitution will prevail.

The truth is that the governors ’ decision on
IPOB is an act in futility . The IPOB members
can change the name of their pressure group
and still carry on with their activities . There
used to be a National Union of Nigerian
Students (NUNS ) many years ago. The Federal
Government placed a ban on its activities and
proscribed it . The Association removed the
NUNS garment and renamed itself the National
Association of Nigerian Students ( NANS) .

NANS is alive and well today, doing what NUNS
used to do except that it has become a poor
shadow of its vibrant ancestor .

To compound the woes of IPOB the military
authorities have gone overboard and declared
IPOB a terrorist organisation. The military
lacks the powers to declare any organisation a
terrorist organisation. Only a court of
competent jurisdiction can make that
pronouncement. Even the charges made by the
military against IPOB are not weighty enough
for any such declaration. If they think they are
right let them head to the court and make a
case for the stigmatisation of the pressure
group. If the IPOB members decide to
challenge these decisions in court they may run
away with victory. But that is only my own
piece of speculation . The reality is that soldiers
are on the ground in the South East marching
people’ s freedom on their big boots and
sending terror into every spine.

This activity is called Operation Python Dance
II (Egwe Eke II ) . There was Operation Python
Dance 1 in the South East that took place from
November 26, 2016 to December 27, 2016 . The
mandate of that mission was the same as this
one: to nip in the bud criminal activities such
as kidnapping, armed robbery , threat to
security and peaceful coexistence. We have no
idea how much of these listed activities the
soldiers were able to eliminate during their
maiden mission in the region . The unvarnished
truth is that in the two operations the IPOB
and its cousins are the main targets of these
military operations. But this organisation is not
known to be armed so why do we need a
heavy handed approach in dealing with its
irritation. In any case , in a democracy, the
military should not be the first security group
to be deployed. Where are our mobile
policemen? The mobile police was specifically
created for the purpose of dealing with
problems that the regular police cannot
handle. It is actually when the mobile police is
overwhelmed and there is a breakdown of law
and order that soldiers can be drafted into the
scene. Soldiers are a security outfit of last, not
first, resort. The noticeable anomaly in the
current military operation is that the soldiers
still have to hand over anyone arrested for an
offence to the police for investigation and
possible prosecution. That emphasises the
need to get the police into the act so that the
soldiers do not do more damage to the image
of the Nigerian military . If that happens they
will confirm the wide ranging allegations that
Amnesty International has been making against
them on alleged human rights violations . 

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