The Presidency has faulted the statement credited to the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, that the Nigerian Army has no powers to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra a terrorist organisation.
The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla, said on Tuesday in a statement on his Facebook page that the decision of the Nigerian Army was in order.
The presidential aide queried Saraki’s legal right to declare as illegal any action taken by the executive or any of its agencies.
Obono-Obla, who drew a distinction between proscription and declaration, said the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), would soon apply for IPOB’s proscription in court.
According to him: “The military, as part of the executive branch of government, has the right to declare that IPOB is a terrorist organization for the purpose of quelling the threat posed to national security and corporate existence of the country by the unwholesome and nefarious activities of the organization.
“So, there is nothing absolutely wrong or unconstitutional for the military, for operational reason, to declare IPOB a terrorist organization.
“Declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization does not amount to proscription of IPOB. Proscription of IPOB will surely be in accordance with the procedure and processes underlined in the provisions of Section 2 (1) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011.
“It provides thus: ‘Where two or more persons associate for the purpose of or where an organization engages in, participating or collaborating in an act of terrorism, promoting, encouraging or exhorting others to commit an act of terrorism, setting or pursuing acts of terrorism, the judge in chambers may, on application made by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the National Security Adviser (NSA) or Inspector-General of Police (IGP), on the approval of the President, declare any entity to be a proscribed organization and the notice should be published in official gazette.
“The military never proscribed IPOB, but only declared it a terrorist organization, because of the way and manner it has been carrying out its activities.
“These include pelting stones and cocktail Molotov bombs on convoys of military vehicles, burning of police stations, killing of police officers, attacking and threatening Nigerians living in Abia State, who do not subscribe to its separatist and militants ideology, creating the Biafra Security Service and Biafra National Guard, threatening to stop the conduct of the forthcoming Anambra governorship election and threatening to make the country un-governorable as well as illegal importation of lethal weaponry into the country.
“By the Constitution, it is the executive branch of government that is empowered to implement the law not the legislature or the Judiciary branches of government, So, where the executive branch in the process of enforcing the law commits an error or act wrongfully or unconstitutionally, it is only the judiciary branch of government that is vested with the power to declare such an action unconstitutional.
“It is not the legislature which has the power to interpret the law. The legislature is only vested with the power of law making and occasionally carrying out oversight of the actions of the executive branch of government in its process of law making to expose corruption or mal-administration and inefficiency.
“It follows that it is unconstitutional for the legislature to declare what ever the executive branch of government has done in exercise of its constitutional powers .
“At the appropriate time the AGF will make the necessary application to the Federal High Court. At this trying one, we expect all the organs and institutions of government to work together, partner, cooperate and collaborate with each other to tackle this menace personified by IPOB instead of playing politics!”