President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the process for proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has said.
The minister said this while addressing State House correspondents on the activities of the organisation in Abuja.
“For those who are fixated with legality, I have good news for them: President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the process of proscribing IPOB, and the procedure is on as I speak.
“But I ask, if the President had been overly concerned with legality, where would Nigeria have been today? If attacks in the South-east had attracted reprisals elsewhere in the country, what would have happened?
“But for the quick action of state governors in the South-east and and the North, there would have been a conflagration of immense proportions,” he said.
The minister commended the Southeast governors for being proactive and “making it clear to IPOB that it has no support for its violent campaign.”
“By its action, the Governors have cut off the oxygen that IPOB needs to survive. If the elected Governors of all the states in the South-east have banned the activities of IPOB, who then is the organization fighting for?
‘IPOB is a contraption against the Buhari Administration, and that it is being sponsored by those I call the Coalition of the Politically-Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters. I stand by that statement despite the noise emanating from the usual suspects.
“Finally, IPOB has decided to externalize its campaign. It has written to governments and parliaments in the West alleging genocide in the South-east. Even a dictionary definition of ‘genocide’ does not support that claim. IPOB has also engaged in using highly-emotive videos of killings, which it harvested from other lands and were doctored, to hoodwink the international community,” he said.
Asked why IPOB was considered a terrorist organization when its members do not carry arms, the minister said: “I think anybody who has watched Nnamdi Kanu’s videos anywhere he goes to he openly solicits for arms and for funds. I have a lot of quotations from him as to the violence intention of IPOB, in one of his videos he said if he is arrested his boys should burn down the country, the same Kanu went on television a few days ago saying he was sleeping at about 4:30pm in his house in Umuahia and then some solders were making noises they were disturbing his sleep and his boys stopped them.
“I ask him which country in the world would tolerate this, unfortunately Nigerians we have short memories at times, or we tend to be very mischievous because this thing is being turned into oh the North is persecuting the south east or muslims persecuting christians. We have forgotten that in 1983 there was a group called Mateseni in Kano, they were crushed by Shagari government, they were muslims and northerners.
“When they relocated to Burukutu they were again crushed by Shagari, when Buhari became Head of State, the same Mateseni raised their head, he chased them far into the Chad Republic as then the Head of State, I remember that time he was accused by America of trying to expand Ghadafi’s agenda. Abacha in his own time dealt also with Mateseni and he was a muslim.
“President Yar Adua in 2010 was on his way to the airport when he got a report about Boko Haram, he sent army to go and destroy them, these were muslims from the north dealing with essentially Islamic muslim insurgencies, anything about insurgence or terrorists act you don’t think about religion, you don’t think about ethnicity, you think about the unity of the country.
“Honestly Nigeria has been very very lucky, last week there would have been massive bloodshed if reprisals had taken place outside the south east and it didn’t take place because our traditional rulers our governors and other leaders went out to pacify people and the kind of stories that has been trending on the social media has not helped things.
“As a matter of fact there was one stating that a major general had been killed, not knowing that it was a retired major that was killed in Benue state over land matters, that would have set the entire country ablaze. As cosmopolitan as Abuja is, it took the FCT minister to mobilise all the 17 graded traditional chiefs and emirs in Abuja to really hold meetings with all the stakeholders.
“To pacify the situation and they think its a joke, you can imagine what would have happened if the people of Kano or Kaduna started retaliation, so we are in a very dangerous situation and actually we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. The peace that you are seeing is deceptive we must continue to work on it and we must continue to counter this very untrue narrative.”
On the President’s approval of the proscription, the minister said: “There is a procedure for proscription, the President must sign the proclamation after which the Attorney General will follow the procedure which he is doing. But for me do you want the President to wait for this to be put into law before you take action and stop looting or killing? Where will Nigeria be today if there is conflagration in Lagos or Kano, like the Governor of Abia said yesterday there are about 11million igbos living outside the south east, that is not a small number, its not a joke.”
On naming those behind the financing of IPOB, the minister said: “I think this is not rocket science, any treasury looter would do everything possible to distract government. If by any act, God forbid it, Nigeria is today engulfed in war, and Nigeria is now involved in trying to quell unrest, will the courts be spared? What would be the first priority of government? It will be to quell that riot, so its a way of distraction to ensure that government is not focused, so its not rocket science that a person today who has a case in court or almost going to jail will try and cause confusion, he would go and support IPOB.”