The Nigerian military says the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) will henceforth be treated as a “militant terrorist organisation”.
In a statement issued on Friday, John Enenche, Director of Defence Information, said claims by the group that it does not bear arms are false.
Enenche said that IPOB had been metamorphosing from one stage to another but that the military is resolved to confront any security threat anywhere in the country in order to ensure the safety of lives and property of the citizenry.
“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,” he stated.
“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.”
Enenche listed the kinds of arms wielded by the IPOB to include “stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles, among others”.
He also cited an incident on September 11 where Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, and his men attacked soldiers at a checkpoint and attempted to “snatch their rifles”.
There was another alleged “attack by IPOB members on a military checkpoint 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,” Eneche said.
Earlier on Friday, army authorities had insisted that its scheduled operation in the South East, code-named “Operation Python Deance II” will take off on Saturday as initially planned.
This was contrary to the announcement by Okezie Ikpeazu, the Governor of Abia State, that soldiers would start withdrawing from the streets of Aba from Friday.
Tension has been high in the south-east since heavy military machinery started moving into the region early this week.
There have been reports of confrontation between soldiers and members of the IPOB, leading to deaths and injuries.