The Presidency has faulted comments made by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, that the Nigerian Army lacks the powers to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist organisation.
The Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla, in a statement on Tuesday, said the army’s decision was in order.
He 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 would soon apply for IPOB’s proscription in court.
He said: “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:
*(a) participating or collaborating in an act of terrorism;
*(b) promoting , encouraging or exhorting others to commit an act of terrorism ; or (c) setting or pursuing acts of terrorism, the judge in chambers may, on application made by the Attorney General, the National Security Adviser or Inspector-General of Police, 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 IPO, 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.”