Veteran Nollywood actor, Chinwetalu Agu, recently found himself in trouble after being brutalised and arrested by the military on account of a garment he wore. A short while back, pictures surfaced on social media showing the actor wearing what looks like the Biafran flag. This act prompted the Armed Forces to apprehend him at Upper Iweka in Anambra state.
As it turns out, the act of wearing any item of clothing bearing the symbol of an unlawful society is prohibited by the law. Doing so leads to the assumption that one is a member of the organisation. Provision for this can be found under section 65 of the Criminal Code of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
As is often the case, there are consequences attached to the commission of a crime. As it stands now, if Chinwetalu Agu is unable to disprove his alleged membership of IPOB, and if he is subsequently tried and found guilty, he will be sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. Provision for this can be found in Section 64 of the Criminal Code.
However, there may be an even harsher punishment awaiting Chinwetalu Agu, if he is eventually proven to be a member of the illegal society. IPOB is not only an unlawful organisation, it is also recognised by the Federal Government as a terrorist group. The punishment for showing support to such people is laid out in the Terrorism (prevention) Act, as amended. According to section 16 of the statute, anyone who belongs to, or professes to belong to a proscribed/terrorist organisation is liable to imprisonment for not less than 20 years.
If this charge is brought against Chinwetalu Agu, he will have 3 possible defences. The first will be to prove that IPOB is not a proscribed or terrorist organisation. The second is to show that it was not such an organisation before he joined it. Lastly, if the actor can convince the court that he took no part in any of the illegal activities of IPOB after it became proscribed, he will be able to escape conviction.