Top Catholic cardinal criticises Nigerian govt for labelling IPOB terrorist organisation

IPOB [Photo Credit: Daily Post Nigeria]
IPOB [Photo Credit: Daily Post Nigeria]

A Catholic cardinal, John Onaiyekan, has criticised the federal government’s declaration of the separatist group, IPOB, as a terrorist organisation.

Mr. Onaiyekan expressed his views in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

The Nigerian government had on Wednesday secured a court order, affirming an earlier pronouncement by the Nigerian army that IPOB is a terrorist organisation.

The acting Chief Judge, Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, Abdu Kafarati, gave the ruling, following an ex-parte application, by Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on the same day consented to the declaration, ahead of the ruling by the court.

Explaining the position of the government on the issue, the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, said the move was the only option available for a responsible government to take to curb the excesses of the group.

Some Nigerians have criticised the move, saying other groups like the Fulani herdsmen whose activities have caused scores of deaths were not labelled terrorists.

In his reaction, Mr. Onaiyekan said although members of IPOB led by its separatist leader, Nnamdi Kanu, had not conducted themselves in a manner worthy of any commendation, the step taken by the government, is “one taken too far.”

“My understanding of a terrorist is a deadly armed activist. I don’t think, merely speaking or talking or threatening will add up to being a terrorist. I believe it is a mistake, it was overdone and I fear that a lot of people outside Nigeria will find it difficult to agree with us in this matter. It will create a bad image for us,” said Mr. Onaiyekan on Thursday.

”The impression it creates is like you give a dog a bad name so as to deal with it. If you want to deal with IPOB, I believe that even the military show-down is a bad approach. Because there is the need to address the grievances of those boys.

“Even though I do not agree with what the boys are doing and the way they are doing it. Nnamdi Kanu’s advisers should have warned him to calm down and not be stupid by thinking that he can confront the Nigerian army. The method he is using will not achieve any objective. Up till now, we have not seen any confrontation since the declaration; and that supports my claim that they are not terrorists.

“If we reduce the courts to a body that just confirms whatever aspirations that government has, then the judiciary will not be seen as independent. The title of terrorists should not just be thrown at anybody. And there is a danger that if we continue this way, it may become more and more difficult for us to arrive at a peaceful solution,” the cleric added.

Mr. Onaiyekan reiterated the call made by the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria, CBCN that the activities of the Fulani herdsmen is something that should have attracted such a declaration.
“The Fulani herdsmen who are armed, lethal, murderous, vicious and have been killing people in our communities; they are the ones that we are waiting for, to see what the government will do. If you recall, the Bishops’ conference called on the government to treat them as terrorists,” Mr. Onaiyekan said.

In his reaction to the development, Mike Ozekhome a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said although the Nigerian government finally complied with the provisions of the law in declaring IPOB a terrorist organisation, the group’s activities are ‘not harmful enough’, to consider it a terror to Nigeria.

“It is no longer news that a few days ago, the Federal Government complied with the provisions of section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011, by obtaining an imprimatur from a Federal High Court in Abuja. It is my humble view, however, that section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011(TPA), cannot be read in isolation,” Mr. Ozekhome said, wondering whether the IPOB group “truly qualifies to be called a terrorist association.

Highlighting various features of terrorism, Mr. Ozekhome further said the provisions of the article 2 (a) on Convention of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), as well as the article 3(1) of the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, 1999 allows for any kind of struggle (including armed struggle) for the purpose of self-determination.

The lawyer argued also that the provisions of article 20 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, has been declared by Nigeria’s Supreme Court to be subject only to the 1999 constitution and ”higher than any other law in Nigeria, with regards to the struggle for self-determination.”

However, sharing a contrary opinion, another lawyer, Rotimi Oguneso said the action of the government is legal and warranted ”given the manner of conduct by the IPOB members.”

“My position is that people should stop playing politics with anything or everything in Nigeria. If we persist in this way, we will ruin ourselves. The terrorism act is a piece of extraordinary legislation. The provision is so draconian and it has a reason.

“An unusual sickness must attract an unusual solution. When the security of the nation is at stake, the rights of individuals or bodies will take a backstage. Who does not know that the activities of IPOB have been causing tension in the country?

“Who is a stranger to the fact that the activities of IPOB have caused some jobless northern youths to be issuing releases that the Igbos should leave the north? Do you know the implications of what those incendiary statements have caused in the country? Do you know some people have started packing their loads (relocating), some of them have died in the process of moving from one part of the country to the other?
“Do you know what it is for a body to wake up and start declaring a form of independence and setting up secret service? It’s high time we sit up in Nigeria and face the truth squarely.”

He added that the comparison made to the activities of herdsmen was inane.
“How can somebody just wake up and before you know it, the country is under tension? Yet people are comparing it to Fulani herdsmen. When you are talking about Fulani herdsmen, do you know them? Are they not marauders in the night who go to attack villages? Have you ever seen Fulani herdsmen on YouTube or in any video saying they are going to challenge the country? How can anybody now compare the issue of Fulani herdsmen with IPOB? Let us not compare things that we shouldn’t. The Nigerian army is, regardless of anything, a symbol of authority and strength of the Nigerian nation,” Mr. Oguneso said.

In a similar opinion, a leader from the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Abuja Chapter, Ngosi Ikenga, said the Nigeria judiciary ”should not be seen as being intimidated into granting the said application.”

“I know that the Attorney-General went to court and secured a ruling declaring IPOB a terror organisation. For the court to have granted the request, I believe there should be some elements of terrorism that must have been noticed from the activities of IPOB. For example, the display of their flag, in a sovereign nation, that in itself is a treasonable offence.

“If they were agitating the way they had started without bringing criminal elements into their agitation, I am not sure the courts would have granted the government’s request. It’s not for people to just criticise the court. The court usually considers issues surrounding certain circumstances, so if the court has so ruled, then there should be some elements of criminality in what they have done. If you are agitating for a state of your own, you should first be granted what you seek, before you start displaying your flag,” Mrs. Ikenga told PREMIUM TIMES.
IPOB is currently challenging its proscription in court.


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  • infoezone

    buhari is just a mistake this country will not make again

    • Sam

      Buhari is actually a blessing.

      • bala

        GOD BLESS

    • tundemash

      You are the mistake to this world.

    • bala

      CORRECT IT NEXT ELECTION IF YOU CAN

      • A.A.Ngalos

        They are not participating in the next election, it is for Nigerians.

  • GBENGA

    When a group is unarmed and doesn’t kill and has never asked anyone to kill, why would the government label it a terrorist group? They have the herdsmen who are busy killing people every day; they have not declared them as a terrorist group. They are calling THEM terrorists. Are they saying the Igbo are terrorists?

    • Sam

      Not the igbos but ipob members.
      There are more igbos who don’t share the madness with ipob.

      • Brian Ted

        YOU ARE AN OUTCAST SHIT

        • tundemash

          just because he doesn;t believe in your terrorism ideals ?

      • Osborn Alex

        Every Igbo man is by implication a terrorist. Am a happy terrorist.

        • bala

          NO

      • bala

        THANK YOU DIM!

      • Nif

        mind you, more than 80% of Igbos support IPOB

    • bala

      I DON’T KNOW MAYBE YOU CAN ANSWER THE QUESTION. ARE YOU A DISGRUNTLE IGBO MAN

  • jon

    Buhari’s illegality has reached a point where impeachment proceedings should be commenced. Civilized Western world has now issued a pronouncement that IPOB is not a terrorist organization. Buhari’s attempt to stop Restructuring will not succeed. The South and Middle Belt cannot wait until Buhari and his parasitic Hausa/Fulani find oil in the desert North to commence restructuring.

    • marcos avelino

      Yes we want to restructure so that all our 180 tribes in the middle belt can each have its separate region.

      • tundemash

        lol !

    • GusO

      The Federal Government should not waste time and money trying to find oil in the North because oil is diminishing in value. In a mere 10 to 15 years Europe, America and Asia are planning to start driving electrical automobiles.

      • bala

        WHO LIED TO YOU. THE MIDDLE EAST AND RUSSIA ARE CUTTING DOWN SUPPLIES TO CONSUMERS TO ENHANCE THE OIL PRICE. CRUDE OIL LIKE DIAMOND IS FOR EVER!

  • Jo Elue

    Turenchi. Empty talk

  • Comfortkay

    Why is the Church now imvolved in this terrorist saga?
    Kanu is afterall dressing everywhere as a Jew and not catholic.

    • Factual Bob

      The true church should be the moral compass committed to fairness,justice and equity to all irrespective of race ,gender,religious faith or lack thereof.

      • marcos avelino

        The church that oppressed , confiscated and murdered Jews throughout Europe for a thousand years is never a moral compass. The church is an evil institution filled with child molesters and adulterers

        • bala

          WHICH HIS EMINENT CORRUPT JOHN CARDINAL ONAYEKHAN IS ONE.

      • bala

        NOT IN THE CASE OF A CORRUPT CARDINAL, BENEFICIARY OF GOODLUCK JONATHAN GOODIES

    • musa aliyu

      Ask the hypocrite

    • bala

      MY BROTHER THE CORRUPT CATHOLIC CARDINAL IS DOING HIS DEFENCE FOR KANU AS ENEMY OF YOUR ENEMY AND BENEFICIARY OF GOODLUCK JONATHAN GOVERMENT STOLEN MONEY.

    • A.A.Ngalos

      May be they belong to one tribe

  • tundemash

    Mr. Onyeikan wants the threat to be carried out before govt reacts and then he would blame same govt for not being pro-active? These political church cl0wns should go and sit down.

    • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

      The world laughs at you and your tyrant

      • bala

        THE POPE BEMOANS YOU AND CORRUPT PASTOR ONAYEKHAN FOR DEFENDING TREASONABLE OFFENDERS.

        • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

          As usual, you do not know the definition of treason, just like you do not know the definition of terrorism. The holy Father at the Vatican prays for us Biafrans and we know that to be true.

  • musa aliyu

    “Up till now, we have not seen any confrontation since the declaration; and that supports my claim that they are not terrorists.” What warped logic. All the mosques burnt and vandalised, the Hausas that were tortured, killed, hunted down like animals do not fit any anomaly in this guy’s brain. This shows you are complicit in their crime. If only the Hausas didn’t show their leadership acumen, I’m sure you would have been abroad now dishing out more garbage, cause the whole nation would have been set ablaze. We thank the living God who loves Nigeria better than those who exploit religion for their personal gains.

    • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

      ONLY IN YOUR DREAMS WERE HAUSAS KILLED, MENTION ONE NAME OR EVEN A PHOTOGRAPH YOU LIAR.

    • Anayo

      Do we say because a few Hausas and maybe probably killed, and a few mosque attacked by mobs out of annoyance against the operation python dance, and in sympathy with Nnamdi Kanu which IPOB has even condemned and press statement released in that regard. Does that justify tagging IPOB a terrorist organisation in all honesty, when what is seen as their weapons against the military are stones, sticks, Molotov? If that is the case then all the Housa-fulani that has been killing people in the north at any slightest provocation are terrorists. The Charley Boy’s recent case if not by God’s grace, he would have been lynched.

      • A.A.Ngalos

        It is you that says the few hausas killed, a few mosques attached, still you called this not terrorism? are you sincere to yourself?

    • Daniel

      That could have been done by criminals , like you claim Fulani herdsmen are.

    • itas2000

      You have said it all bros.

    • Durotimi Oye

      How many northerners has ipob killed please give me the stats. Stop fabricating stories that ipob is killing northerners if you continue then you are the threat to national security.

    • MikeZen1

      Hahahaha Hausa “leadership acumen” my foot. Where was this alleged “acumen” all these decades that Hausas and Fulanis have been murdering people all over the north at the drop of a hat?? Where was this “acumen” all these years that murderous Fulani herdsmen have been maiming, raping and killing farmers all across the Middle Belt and the South? Please spare us the nonsense. What a joke.

    • Sherrif Don Jos

      Now you suddenly value human lives abi…. The fulani killing of farmers at Platuea , Benue, Taraba etc they are humans abi !!! Sycophants

  • bala

    CARDINAL JOHN! YOU RE A DISGRACE TO YOUR ORDINATION ASA CARDINAL. FIRST IN A DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY, DOES YOUR RELIGIOUS OBLIGATION GIVE YOU AUTHORITY TO JOIN HANDS WITH AN INSURRECTION TO TAKE ARMS AGAINST YOUR MOTHERLAND? I KNOW MANY OF YOU CATHOLIC PRIEST IN NIGERIA WHO HAD TAKEN MONEY DONATION FROM PDP JONATHAN GOODLUCK. NOW THAT BUHARI IS NOT WILLING TO DONATE HARD EARNED EARNINGS OF NIGERIANS TO YOU HENCE RUBBISH TALKS ALL THE WAY . JESUS WILL JUDGE YOU EVENTUALLY BECAUSE JESUS DIED FOR THE HONEST POOR GENTILES

    • Kickboxer

      says a Yariba DOMESTIC SLAVE…

  • Daniel

    This government has very wrong priorities.

    They will soon realise they have become isolated in the comity of nations.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Cardinal John Onaiyeka,is a disgrace to the Catholic dominion as Cardinal John Onayeika, resorts to his Igbo-ethnic mentality to declares his position against the Nigerian court,Nigeria military declaration of IPOB, as terrorist organisation, as South-East states governors forum, proscribed IPOB activities in the South East states.Cardinal John Onaiyeka, dis-honoured Catholic image with his interference in Nigeria-sensitive security issues that weighs against the security of Nigeria, and the security threat posed by the proscribed IPOB before its proscription by Nigerian court.Cardinal John Onaiyeka, errs by over-reaching himself with his unfortunate and non-cautious comment which portrayed him for being an ethnic-biased cardinal..

    • Truth259

      State you opinion and stop this your childish ranting. He has stated his opinion which he is entitle to. Why wailing? You think everybody is gullible as you are? IPOB is not a Terrorist organisation and can never be.QED

      • itas2000

        Why did you killed us, we the abokis? If is not terrorist organization.

    • Durotimi Oye

      You obviously have nothing to say.

      • Sean

        He just said the truth, as truth is hurtful to people like you!

        • A.A.Ngalos

          Truth is hurtful when Mr Mike O (SAN) said their action is not HARMFUL enough, When shall it be harmful enough? when they start killing as many as possible? after they killed a policeman in Ariaria in Aba, burnt a police van, broke a bank and so on, still not harmful enough?

          • Duke Ogechukwu Onwudiwe

            Did you watch the video to see what the police did to innocent civilians…how they flogged little kids who’s only crime was that they were in the area where ordinary people were expressing their freedom of speech.

          • Duke Ogechukwu Onwudiwe

            The police deserve what they got from IPOB members.

          • A.A.Ngalos

            When a court of competent jurisdiction together with the SE Governors proscribed IPOB, you then run with your tail between your legs crying.

          • A.A.Ngalos

            The IPOB members as well got what they deserve from the court of competent jurisdiction.

    • Sherrif Don Jos

      You don’t have brain , and think , talk like a human being ….Fulani and IPOB which one is more dangerous
      Look at who is talking ,why can’t they discussed politics . The Sultan statement of Politics is Welcome , but the Cardinal statement is not.Sycophants . Check the record and see how many thousands kill by herdsmen.

  • Kickboxer

    MAZI NNAMDI KANU & HIS BOYS DID EXACTLY WHAT THEY SUPPOSED TO DO AND IPOB WILL CONTINUE TO AGITATE.
    ASO ROCK TERRORISTS ARE DESPERATE AND KNOW THAT THEY CAN’T STOP IPOB AGITATIONS…HERE COMES THE NEXT STAGE OF THE AGITATIONS…

  • Sean

    CATHOLIC CARDINAL INDEED.. WHO CARES?

  • Nif

    Truth is bitter they say

  • Duke Ogechukwu Onwudiwe

    Ngozi ikenga is a disgrace to Biafra Republic

    • abodes_124

      No Sir, She is a disgrace to herself and her family. Her name will go down in infamy.

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    Catholic cardinal,John Onaiyeka, erred by classifying the proscription of IPOD,as a terrorist organisation because, cardinal John Onaiyeka, must be clearly told and lectured by the Catholic mission, that he must stair clear of ethnic-politic and allowed Nigeria security agency to handle the security of the nation, which IPOB appeared to be threatening with its activities before IPOB, was proscribed by the South-East states governors and declared as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian military.Finally,a Nigerian court in Abuja, has declared IPOB a terrorist organisation.Cardinal John Onaiyeka, may wish to go on self exile if he disagree with the security policy of Nigeria, that declared IPOB, a terrorist organisation.