President Muhammadu Buhari has authorized the commencement of process to proscribe the separatist group, the Indigeneous People of Biafra, IPOB.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Army had last week declared IPOB a terrorist group after which governors of the five south-east states announced the proscription of the activities of the group in the region. But the action was criticized by some Nigerians, including Senate President Bukola Saraki who opined that neither the military nor the governors has the authority to ban the group.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday announced that President Buhari had commenced the process of proscribing the group in order to end arguments on its legality.
Mr. Mohammed, while addressing the state House Press corps at the end of the Federal Executive Council, said: “For those who are fixated with legality, I have good news for them.
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“The President has approved the process of proscribing IPOB and before he left he did approve the proscription and the procedure is on.”
The minister said: “And I ask, if the President had been overly concerned with the legalese, where will Nigeria be today?’’
He said he had had to deal with the issue of IPOB in many radio and television programmes in the past few days.
Acknowledging the rights of individuals or groups to seek self-determination, Mr. Mohammed however said such pursuit should be within the confines of the law and non-violent, adding that where any group crossed the line by engaging in violence, it then became out of tune.
“All I know is that IPOB has engaged in terrorist activities such as setting up prior military and para military, clashing with the national army and attempting to seize rifle from soldiers. It used weapons such as machetes and Molotov cocktails and mounting road blocks to extort money among others.
“The leader has openly solicited for arms,’’ he said.
Mr. Mohammed insisted that no national army would tolerate the IPOB activities or look away when attacked by a band of thugs, adding that if not for swift response of the South East governors, the crisis would have escalated.
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He insisted that IPOB was a political contraption against the Buhari administration and was being sponsored by a coalition of the politically disgruntled and treasury looters.
The minister said IPOB had externalized its campaign by writing western governments and parliaments alleging genocide as well as using fake videos of killings to deceive the public.
He said the challenge for the country was to ensure that “we counter this narrative’’.
He noted that IPOB had opened diplomatic moves by setting up its financial headquarters in France and a radio station in London, adding that government would stop the funding of the group from the diaspora.