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Court Order Proscribing IPOB is at odds with Basic Tenets of Justice and Fairness

On Wednesday, 20th September, 2017, acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Abdul Kafarati granted an ex-parte declaration that the activities of the group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) amount to acts of terrorism and illegality as well as an Order proscribing the group. Access to Justice expresses serious concern about the Order of the honourable court.

The Court’s Ruling is hard to rationalize and it will send many scratching their heads as well as fan the flames of an already volatile political situation. It is disturbing because the ruling – which is a determinative, and conclusive statement on the legality of the Indigenous People of Biafra as far as this Court goes – was arrived at ex-parte, when the other side - IPOB – was not given an opportunity at all to be heard or to oppose the application.

It is at odds with basic tenets of justice and fairness.

It is an elementary but hallowed principle of law that courts should not, and indeed, cannot make substantive orders against persons or groups whose interests will be affected by such orders without giving them the chance to be heard. IPOB was clearly not given the opportunity to be heard since this was an ex-parte application.

Why the Court did not order that the group be put on notice of an application seeking its abrogation beggars belief. It is even more alarming that a court of law would proscribe an organization through ex-parte proceedings.

The Ruling of the Federal High Court does not stand up to respectable scrutiny and we fear that it would further damage public trust in the Nigerian Judiciary.

Dr. Adenike Aiyedun
Deputy Director, Access to Justice





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