by Stanley Azuakola
The special adviser to the president on media and publicity, Reuben Abati, disclosed on Tuesday that President Goodluck Jonathan has formally approved the proscription of Boko Haram and authorised the gazetting of an order declaring the group’s activities as acts of terrorism.
One of the key clauses in the gazette is that any person who solicits or renders support to the activities of terrorism or publish pro-terror material could be sent to jail for 20 years.
The proscription order which was gazetted as the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice 2013 affects both Boko Haram (Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad) and the Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan.
According to Abati, President Jonathan approved it “pursuant to section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011 (as Amended).
“It officially brings the activities of both groups within the purview of the Terrorism Prevention Act and any persons associated with the two groups can now be legally prosecuted and sentenced to penalties specified in the Act,” he added.
The proscription order, Abati further noted, warns the general public that any person “participating in any form of activities involving or concerning the collective intentions of the said groups will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act”.
“Section 5 (1) of the act 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 group,” said Abati.
But what constitutes support? What kind of support makes one culpable?
Abati said “support” in the Act includes: “(a) 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;
“(b) receipt or provision of material assistance, weapons including biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, explosives, training, transportation, false documentation or identification to terrorists or terrorist groups; (c) receipt or provision of information or moral assistance, including invitation to adhere to a terrorist or terrorist group;
“(d) entering or remaining in a country for the benefit of, or at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group; or
“(e) the provision of, or making available, such financial or other related services prohibited under this Act or as may be prescribed by regulations made pursuant to this Act”.