By Anthony Ogbonna
The Federal Government of Nigeria, Tuesday, threw its weight on the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the categorisation of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by both the south-east governors and the Nigerian army, respectively, saying the activities of the group are similar to those of other terrorist groups.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Tuesday when he appeared on a live TV programme “Good Morning Nigeria” on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
According to him, the federal government equally knows the foreign countries supporting and funding the activities of IPOB in Nigeria and has kick-started steps at blocking IPOB’s funding.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed also said that IPOb has written to those foreign countries, lying to them that Nigeria is a country where Muslims persecute Christians and that in Nigeria, genocide is carried out by the state.
According to him, “There are a lot of arguments regarding the constitutionality of the action of the military and the South East governors.
“People must realise that we are dealing with issue of national security and I do not think that the military and the governors should fold their arms while the country is set ablaze.
“I have heard a lot of comments as to whether the military has the right to declare IPOB, a terrorist group
“What the military has done is to catalogue all the activities of IPOB, which are not different from that of terrorists groups,” he said.
Mohammed said IPOB set up a para-military organisation, a parallel military group, Biafra Secret Service and Biafra National Guard.
He said the group were attacking army installations and soldiers at check points, extorting money from innocent people.
“IPOB activities are not jokes. If there have not been the proactive actions on the part of the military and the South East governors, there would have been retaliations from other regions and the entire country will be set on fire.
“We cannot be talking of semantics or procedure when the nation is moving towards crises and precipices.
It is only in a Banana Republic that you can see non state actors doing what IPOB is doing.
“The actions by the military and the governors should be seen from the perspective of ensuring internal security and averting chaos,” he said.
Recall that on Monday September 18th, 2017, the President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki had condemned the tagging of IPOB as terrorist organisation, saying it was unconstitutional.
Saraki had also faulted the South-East governors for proscribing the activities of IPOB in the region.
Recall that army’s Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche, had pronounced that IPOB was a terrorist organisation after a reported clash between military personnel and IPOB members in Umuahia, Abia state.
Enenche had, during the pronouncement, given the following reasons for tagging IPOB a terrorist organisation; According to him,
““After due professional analysis and recent developments, it has become expedient to notify the general public that the claim by IPOB actors that the organisation is non-violent is not true.
“Hence, the need to bring to public awareness the true and current state of IPOB.
“In this regard, some of their actions, clandestinely and actively, that have been terrorising the general public include: “The formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads and extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
“Militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles, among others) on a military patrol on Sept. 10, 2017. “Physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a check point on Sept. 11, 2017 and also attempt to snatch their rifles.
“Attack by IPOB members on a military check point on Sept. 12, 2017, at Isialangwa, where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female soldier’s rifle.’’
“From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wish to confirm to the general public that IPOB from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation.”
Alhaji Mohammed also reiterated his position that IPOB was being sponsored by the association of disgruntled politicians and treasury looters to discredit President Muhammad Buhari”s Administration.
He admonished the media and opinion leaders to be circumspect in their publications and discussions on IPOB in order not to aggravate the crises the more.
“The kind of comments and headlines in the media as well as comments from certain quarters are the types that give oxygen and confidence to the IPOB.
“They must exercise restraint because the only reason we practice our profession or be a commentator is simply because there is peace in the country,” he said.