The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has advised the Nigerian military to review the labelling of IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
HURIWA on Saturday lamented that the military has “increasingly become anti-democratic and assuming legislative powers”, alleging that its hierarchy was working in conjunction with Arewa youths.
HURIWA said both section 4 of the Constitution of Nigeria and section 6 recognised the National Assembly as the body to exercise legislative powers of the federation and the judicial powers of the Federation.
It described the pronouncement on IPOB as a terrorist group as a charade and a plot to initiate violent crackdown on the members of this substantially unarmed and peaceful group.
The Rights group warned that the military institution as a creation of the law must not be permitted to grow wings and become an omnibus vehicle that would ride roughshod on the democratic and constitutional rights of associations and groups to operate as strictly non-violent and peaceful bodies.
HURIWA said by the Constitutional provision, only the Courts of competent jurisdictions or the legislative chambers of the Nigerian National Assembly under the relevant provisions of the Constitution, can make pronouncements on which groups can be categorised as terrorist organisations.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said the attempt by Major General John Enenche of the Defence Headquarters to confer on his office the powers of judicial or legislative authorities by unilaterally declaring the Europe-registered group as a terrorist group is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, null and void.
“We reject this coup plot against the constitutional rights of citizens to join associations freely and to assemble peacefully,” it read.
“The illegal pronouncement of the Defence Headquarters that IPOB is a terrorist organisation shows that the Defence authority is working in tandem with the AREWA YOUTH coalition which had recently canvassed the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group.
“The military must be stopped from attempting to imprison a huge number of Igbo youth only because they are seeking to enjoy their rights to self determination which is authorised by all international laws.
“This Defence Headquarters will one day pronounce any town union as terrorist organisation the moment the group opposes the government of the day. This dictatorship must be uprooted immediately and comprehensively defeated.
“Has the DHQ complied with the appropriate procedure in declaring IPOB a terrorist organization? What is the legal and operational implication of this declaration? What is “acts of terrorism” in the circumstances of this Law?”, the statement quipped.