Akin Akande, Abuja
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the proscription order by the federal government against the Boko Haram sect as the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) on Sunday kicked against the order saying that it violates the constitution.
The ACN said desirable as the order may be in tackling the terrorist organisations, it violates the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by stifling the press and tampering with the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the order also makes it easy for an increasingly intolerant government to clamp down on the opposition, which its sees more as an irritant than an indispensable part of democracy.
It therefore called on media professional bodies to challenge the Order in court to save journalists from long jail terms simply for carrying out their constitutional duties.
In the alternative, the ACN called on the federal government to clarify the knotty and vague areas of the open-ended Order, that may end up punishing journalists and infringing on the civil liberties of the citizens more than it will curtail the activities of the sects.
”Against the background of insinuations in government circles, let us be clear that we do not condone the activities of these sects that have killed and maimed innocent Nigerians and turned a section of the country into a battle field. Terrorism in all its ramifications is condemnable, and no responsible government will allow any group, no matter its name, grievances or ideology, to carry out terrorist
”But we believe that whatever action government takes – even in an emergency – must pass the constitutional test, especially since the
relevant sections of the Constitution have not been suspended,” the party said.
It said the offensive section of the Order is Section 5 (1), which prescribes a term of imprisonment of not less than 20 years ”for any person
who knowingly, in any manner, directly or indirectly, solicits or renders support for the commission of an act of terrorism or to a terrorist
Emphasising the situation, ACN said “support”, as defined by the Order, includes ”incitement to commit a terrorist act through the Internet, or any electronic means or through the use of printed materials or through the dissemination of terrorist information.”