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Lawyers condemn sit-at-home, urge govt to save Nigerians – The Punch

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Some lawyers have condemned the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, saying the order is unconstitutional and amounts to a breach of the fundamental rights of the people of South-Eastern Nigeria.
The Indigenous People of Biafra had further enjoined agitators from other ethnic nationalities in the country to join its one-month sit-at-home protest which would commence on October 21.
According to the Media and Public Secretary of the separatist group, Emma Powerful, there was an alleged plot by the Federal Government not to bring the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to court on that day as a ploy to continue to incarcerate him, hence, the planned protest.
The IPOB’s sit-at-home, which is observed every Monday, has created unrest and interfered with socio-economic activities in South Eastern states such as Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Enugu, and Abia, with many residents obeying the order despite governors telling people to ignore it.

However, in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, a legal practitioner, Ige Asemudarai, said the IPOB’s sit-at-home order was against the constitution.
“It is against the people’s wishes, public security, sanity, and offends the fundamental rights of Nigerians living in the South-East.
“However, the main problem we have is that those in the government have completely abandoned governance. To date, we have seen no strategic action on the part of the Federal Government to forestall crises in the South East. The Federal Government has failed to address the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians,” Asemudarai said.


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According to him, “The IPOB is a body seeking self-determination for the people of the South East, which is within their rights; however, this right to self-determination does not confer on any person or group of persons kill, maim, commit arson, or get involved in any conduct that amounts to a breach of peace.
“The Federal Government must, therefore, live up to its responsibility of securing the lives and property of Nigerians. Nigerians must be given the chance to air their views. If people are yearning for self-determination, then the Federal Government must genuinely look into that.
“While it is within the rights of IPOB to seek self-determination, they can only do so within the framework of existing laws. They cannot impose such an order on free citizens. Instead, let them approach achieve their aims through the right channels.”

Also, a civil rights lawyer, Malachy Ugwummadu, in an interview with our correspondent, said the orders given by IPOB often paralysed economic activities in the concerned states.
He said, “With respect to the constitution, it is contrary to Section 41. This section guarantees the right of all Nigerians to move freely throughout the country.
“It is also not in conformity with the rights of citizens as enshrined in international laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter for Human and People’s Rights.”
Similarly, another legal practitioner, Onoriode Edafeyivwotu, said, “The unending sit-at-home order by the proscribed IPOB, which is now becoming an eyesore and has also bestowed unprecedented hardship on the people of South-Eastern Nigeria, is a complete negation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The state governors in the South East should work hand in hand with the Federal Government to curb the menace and unmask all those financing the unrest; those unmasked financiers should be made to face the full wrath of the law.”

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