Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has again shown why he is a statesman as he has distanced himself and indeed the Senate from all manners of unconstitutional and political maneuvering that is going on in the South-east. The outspoken Senator yesterday, ridiculed the actions of the Nigerian military and South-East governors over the categorisation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation and its proscription respectively.
According to Dr. Saraki declaring and branding IPOB as a terrorist group by the military is unconstitutional. In the same vein, he described the proscription of the separatist group by the South- East governors as illegal, which has no basis in law.
To show the high-priority status he accords the issue, the Senate President made the declaration in a statement he personally signed in reaction to the current tension in the South-East occasioned by the on-going military operations in the region, tagged Operation Python Dance II.
Recall that the South-East Governors’ Forum, who are to blame for the bulk of underdevelopment of the region had on Friday, September 15, announced the proscription of IPOB activities. Also, on the same day, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in a laughable move branded IPOB as a “militant terrorist organisation.”
But, Saraki frowned at the position of both the governors and the military on IPOB, pointing out that the duo negated and disregarded the constitutionally laid down procedures for branding any group as terrorist.
The Senate President, however, advised President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently attending the United Nations meeting in the US to follow the appropriate constitutional channel in taking such action, if it became necessary, so that the international community would see Nigeria as a law-abiding nation.
He said: “I wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by governors of the South-East states and the categorisation of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does not follow the due process. “Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect. I am sure the president will do the needful by initiating the right process. This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operates by laid down process under every circumstance. So, those who have been hammering on this point should maintain their cool.”
He disclosed that the National Assembly would investigate the crisis in the South-East with a view to unravelling what actually transpired between the IPOB members and the soldiers, noting that the facts of the tension were not yet known. “I want to also make it clear that the National Assembly intends to embark on a fact-finding investigation aimed at determining what actually happened during the period of the military exercise in the South-East. We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known. We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover up,” he affirmed.