According to reports, the Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) says it is not within the jurisdiction of the military to declare the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist group.
On Friday, the defence headquarters branded IPOB a militant terrorist organisation.
The south-east governors also announced a ban on all activities of IPOB in the geo-political zone.
In a statement by Micheal Ajayi and Sanusi Suleiman, the group’s executive secretary, and middle belt coordinator, NHRC said the military should have made its findings and submitted to the national assembly for consideration.
“The ban on IPOB is likely to force the group underground… it has foreclosed the prospect of negotiation which is an essential element of democracy and free speech,” the statement read.
“We are not in a military regime. It is wrong for the military that should be under civilian authority to determine which organisation is a terrorist or not.
“In a democracy, the military should have made its findings and submitted same to the national assembly for deliberations.
“There is no basis to ban IPOB. The Nigerian constitution recognises the freedom of association.
“Though IPOB declares it is fighting for separation from a section of the country from Nigeria, the solution is constructive engagement and not outright banning of the group.
“Under the terrorism act 10 2011 passed by the Nigerian national assembly, only a high court judge on the advice of the national security adviser, the inspector general of police or the attorney-general of the federation can declare an organisation a terrorist group ad such has to be published in a Gazzzet making the proclamation of the governors and the Military to be illegal.”
The group urged the federal government to release IPOB members in detention or charge them to court.
“We have sent a petition to the United Nations, (UN) office in Geneva. We have already been invited in pursuant to the procedures and expectations of the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights. Nigeria and her component states should show respect to the dictates of universal standards,” it said.
The NHRC, established in 2008, is made up of several civil society and community organisations across Nigeria.