By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie & Steve Oko
ENUGU—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari last week accused the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB of being involved in pipeline vandalisation.
Making the allegation in an interview with Bloomberg, the President claimed: “Criminality and terrorism in oil-producing regions hamper production and it would help if Nigeria’s western allies designated IPOB as a terrorist group, given their complicity in damage to pipelines and infrastructure. We urge those same international partners to take additional steps costing them nothing, by proscribing another group, IPOB, as a terrorist organisation. Their leadership enjoys safe haven in the West, broadcasting hate speech into Nigeria from London, spending millions lobbying members of the US Congress, and freely using international financial networks to arm agitators on the ground. This must stop.”
The allegation did not go down well with the apex Igbo socio-cultural body who told the President that his brazen biased and lopsided manner of administration produced IPOB.
“What I think the IPOB is asking for is very clear: Treat us as partners in the Nigerian project or allow us to go. On the other hand, how can one explain the obvious lopsidedness in the appointment of all heads of military and paramilitary organisations with little or no South-East considerations? Ohanaeze Ndigbo has repeatedly stated that a people denied justice may not have interest in peace.
“The request by Mr. President to the West is most unachievable because the West watches with keen interest and utter resignation the pathetic governance paradigm in the country. For the avoidance of doubt, democracy all over the world requires justice, equity, mutual toleration and institutional forbearance all of which are in short supply in today Nigeria.
“Ohanaeze contends that if Mr. President confronts the menace of the Fulani herdsmen who have been terrorizing several states, communities and individuals for over seven years now with similar obsession and commitment deployed to IPOB, Nigeria will be a better place,” Ohanaeze Ndigbo said through the spokesman, Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia.
IPOB speaks on allegation
Reacting, IPOB dismissed the President’s allegation as baseless, saying that the Western allies know who the pipeline vandals are. They accused Buhari of protecting those they described as the most deadly people in Nigeria and turned around to accuse them falsely.
“You are harbouring and shielding the most deadly people in Nigeria – Fulani herdsmen – therefore, you have no moral justification to speak on security in comity of nations,” the group replied President Buhari, telling him that “his Western audience already know who the pipeline vandals in Nigerian are.”
“President Muhammadu Buhari should tell America and other Western countries the locations of pipelines IPOB vandalised. The allegation against IPOB is childish, because everybody knows that IPOB does not engage in pipeline vandalism in Nigeria. Even the international community knows that IPOB does not involve in such act.
“Maybe the Buhari-controlled Federal Government of Nigeria doesn’t know that the West is not as daft and uninformed as his government and his clueless kleptomania cabinet is, otherwise, he would not have made such embarrassing factless claims.
“For a President residing in Aso Rock to tell the US and other Western countries that IPOB is responsible for pipeline vandalism in the Niger-Delta, shows how and uninformed he is. Why should he choose to further advertise his ignorance and the failure of his government in credible intelligence-gathering by making such laughable, wild and untenable allegation? President Buhari should be reminded that his Western audience already knows the actual culprits behind pipeline vandalism in Nigeria and who the beneficiaries are.
“He should also be reminded that his Western audience already knows how his government is aiding his Fulani bandit brothers in their wicked agenda of massacring indigenous Nigerians and taking over their land. The West knows who and how ransom in hard currency is paid to Fulani bandits and terrorists kidnapping innocent Nigerians. His government is promoting, shielding and enabling them to amass more weapons for their genocidal agenda. The President of Nigeria should be told that the Western world has already understood that his anger against IPOB is simply because we, the IPOB, remain the only obstacle to his government’s evil agenda of using his Fulani kinsmen to overrun Nigeria and declare it an Islamic State. That is why it is only in Nigeria that IPOB, a peaceful movement with presence in over 100 countries, is tagged a terrorist organisation, of course only by his government.
“How can a President allow his kinsmen to continue terrorizing and massacring Nigerians and claiming responsibility, and be pretending not to have seen or heard what they are doing? Yet, the people he is presiding over as President are wailing and gnashing their teeth for the terror unleashed on them. The world leaders and countries should stop paying attention to Buhari, he does not mean well for the people he is presiding over their affairs.”
Address kidnappings going on in S-East —Chief Agbo
Angered by the allegation, Enugu-based retiree, Chief Agbo Iloeje Nnaji charged Buhari to “address frequent kidnappings going on in the South-East region and leave IPOB alone. Your attitude to governance is the reason IPOB came up to seek justice. They are not known to go near oil pipelines. Mr. President, you are looking for all manner of bad names to give IPOB to get the international community to see them as terrorists but you are not fighting the known Fulani herdsmen terrorists rampaging through Umuneochi, Isiukwuato, in Abia State; Ezeagu, Ehamufu and Udi areas of Enugu State. IPOB, before being infiltrated by elements allegedly sponsored by state actors, was a very peaceful group, protesting injustice done the Igbo.”
Also reacting, Igbo youths under the umbrella name of Coalition of Igbo Youth Leaders,COSEYL asked President Buhari to look the direction of his kinsmen, the Fulani herdsmen who they said have forcefully taken over forests in every part of the country for the breaking of pipelines instead of pointing accusing fingers at IPOB who live in cities. National President of COSEYL, Comrade Goodluck Ibem, accused the President of nursing malice against IPOB, hence his desperation to blackmail and incite the international community against the pro-Biafra group.
“The claims by Mr. President are pure fallacy. It is very unfortunate that such claims will be coming from a President who should speak with proven facts. It is baseless because he has no evidence to substantiate the allegations. He should apologise for it.
“The allegation is purely borne out of malice. It is wrong to just wake up and make such a statement without evidence of facts. It is unfortunate that a man who should be a father to all is showing bias.
“IPOB is not in the bush. We know those living in the bush and they are Fulani herdsmen, the President’s kinsmen. If anything in the bush is destroyed, it is the Fulani herdsmen living in the bush that should be asked. Fulani herdsmen are even proud to say they own the bush, so, they should take responsibility for anything missing inside the bush which is their house. Yes, the Fulani herdsmen are to be held accountable,” COSEYL said and called on the President to stop diverting attention from the real source of pains and agony in Nigeria which is the criminal herders that have forcefully taken over forests and bushes and converted them into slaughter grounds and haven for kidnapping.
“That accusation should be directed to Fulani herdsmen. The President should be bold enough to own up that the Fulani herdsmen are the ones destroying the pipelines because they are the ones who live in the bush,” Igbo youth leaders said and asked the international community to disregard the claims by the President.
Show proof —Kalu Idika Kalu, former minister
In his reaction to the allegation, former Minister for Finance, Dr Kalu Idika Kalu, said he expected the President to back up his claims with proof, saying that it was not proper to make allegations without proof.
His words: “Any comment can only make sense in the context of investigation backed by facts and proof. You don’t need to make such accusation without facts. You can’t point fingers like that without proof. You are in a position to provide proof not just blanket accusation.
“The Presidency has all the resources to prove the allegations, so they should take journalists to the pipelines and prove that it was IPOB that destroyed them if they have the facts. The facts have to be fully ascertained.”
The elder statesman said: “At a time when God miraculously pulled Nigeria from the brinks and we are now discussing election which almost seemed impossible few weeks back, the country needs to focus on the success of the 2023 polls” to usher in a new hope for the country.
“We should not fritter away our blessing but be thankful to God that we have been pulled back from the ditch where we were heading before. We need to ensure that the 2023 elections work so we can reset the country.”
Ploy to nail IPOB—Prof Obasi Igwe
A professor of political science, Prof. Obasi Igwe in his reaction to President Muhammadu Buhari’s allegation against IPOB, dismissed it as a ploy to nail IPOB, insisting that the hollow allegation has gone to show that the Federal Government is sponsoring AK-47-wielding terrorists to blackmail the agitators. He said President Buhari accused IPOB of vandalizing pipeline to divert the attention of people from massive corruption eating deep into the oil industry under his watch. He alleged that Buhari has taken IPOB as one of his enemies because they are the most vocal among all the organisations that have risen up against his impunities. He, however, appealed to the President to stop looking for reasons to continue on the path of war and killings in the South-East but to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other political prisoners.
“It is now clear that the Federal Government accuses IPOB to divert attention from the outrage against atrocities being committed by AK-47-wielding Fulani terrorists across the country, particularly in the South-East region. President Buhari has no answer to the allegations of unlawfully permitting, condoning and/or actually inviting foreign Fulani to join their local tribesmen in taking over Nigeria.
“President Buhari’s obsession is with the IPOB, an unarmed and peaceful group which rose up in a legitimate self-determination agitation against the enslavement programme for other Nigerians as clearly indicated by his ethno-religious policies.
Buhari plans to disarm Igbo politically to actualise Islamisation agenda —Onyike
Dismissing the President’s allegation with a wave of the hand, Hon. Abi Onyike said it is a plot to disarm the Igbo nation and criminalise political activists in the region to easily pursue his Caliphate Islamization agenda.
According to Onyike, this is not the first time the government had tried to make the international community to proscribe IPOB, but the international community knows better.
“This is not the first time the government of Nigeria is attempting to declare IPOB a terrorist organisation. What the government wants to achieve now is to get the international community to blacklist IPOB diplomatically in order to blackmail the Igbo self-determination struggle. President Muhammadu Buhari wants the world to believe that the Igbo freedom fighters are terrorists. That is one way of disarming the Igbo nation so that the political activists can be criminalized for the Caliphate Islamization agenda to succeed.
The Igbo National Council, INC, while reacting to the allegation also challenged the President to provide evidence to back up his claims. INC President, Chilos Godsent advised Buhari to make peace with Igbo rather than looking for unsubstantiated allegations against their youth. He said he will regret his attack on Igbo like former head of state, Yakubu Gowon.
“The Igbo National Council INC is very disappointed by the statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari on his accusation of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, being responsible for vandalization of petroleum pipelines in the Niger Delta Region. INC, therefore, calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to provide cogent and verifiable evidence to back his claims the accusation.
“INC would rather advised President Muhammadu Buhari to explore every available opportunity he has now to make peace with the Igbo Nation so as not to regret when he leaves office like Gen. Yakubu Gowon and many other past Heads of state are regretting now”, INC said.