Federal Government on Sunday said the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was not set up to fight for the right of anyone or group in the country, but as a tool to destabilise the nation, divert attention from the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration and obliterate its laudable achievements.
This was just as the government commended the governors of the South- East states for proscribing the organisation, which the Nigerian Military had since declared a terrorist group, according to him on account that the group established a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of
Biafra National Guard, engaged in unauthorised blocking of public access roads; extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks, and possession and use of weapons, including stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles, among others on a military patrol on more than one occasion this month alone.
Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this in Lagos while addressing newsmen, even as posited that the IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu was being sponsored by those, he tagged, “Coalition of the Politically Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters.”
According to the minister, who sadly noted that there was no doubt that the wounds inflicted on the nation’s psyche by the activities of IPOB would take some time to heal, those sponsoring IPOB to destabilize the country and trigger chaos, believe they will realize their ambition of escaping justice and then be free to dip their hands into the nation’s treasury again.
“There is no doubt that the wounds inflicted on the nation’s psyche by the activities of IPOB will take some time to heal. But while that happens, Nigerians must understand that IPOB was not set up to fight for the right of anyone or group, but as a tool to destabilize the nation, divert attention from the efforts of the Buhari Administration and obliterate the laudable achievements of the Administration.
“IPOB is being sponsored by those I will call the Coalition of the Politically Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters. They believe that by sponsoring this group to destabilise the country and trigger chaos, they will realize their ambition of escaping justice and then be free to dip their hands into the nation’s treasury again,” he said.
The minister, in his address titled, “IPOB Campaign, An Orchestrated Plot Against Buhari’s Administration,” said the signs that the proscribed group were out to destabilise the government were very clear as IPOB activities became heightened with the advent of the Buhari Administration in 2015.
Mohammed said besides, the IPOB had been unrelenting since then, recalling that it was the same group headed by Kanu that led a protest at the
Nigeria House in London against Boko Haram insurgency and in support
of Nigeria’s unity under former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration, adding that if such was coincidental, then that coincidence was uncanny.
“The signs are very clear: The activities of IPOB became heightened with the advent of this Administration, and have been unrelenting since then. If this is coincidental, then that coincidence is uncanny, at the least. Remember that Nnamdi Kanu, who led a protest at the Nigeria House in London against Boko Haram insurgency and in support
of Nigeria’s unity, under the Jonathan Administration, has suddenly metamorphosed into an IPOB monster who will rather set the nation ablaze,” the minister.
Mohammed said Nigerians should be concerned why IPOB decided to up its violent activities immediately it was announced that Nigeria had come out of recession.
He said rather than allow the government the chance to consolidate on that monumental achievement, IPOB decided to distract it, with the airwaves being polluted with the activities of IPOB, lamenting that such development had made the good news of the end of recession and its fall-outs to be “replaced in the headlines with the IPOB show of shame.”
“Has anyone wondered why IPOB decided to up the ante, so to say, in its violent campaign immediately it was announced that Nigeria has come out of recession? Now, instead of the government being given the chance to consolidate on that monumental achievement, it is being distracted, and the airwaves have been polluted with the activities of IPOB. The good news of the end of recession and its fall-outs are being replaced in the headlines with the IPOB show of shame,” the minister said.
Speaking on hate speeches, the minister described the IPOB leader, Kanu, as the master of hate speech in the country, saying no one, including the same people whose rights he claimed to be championing, had escaped his vitriolic and primitive attacks.
This was just as he challenged all his sympathizers to scrutinise his past comments and remarks about the nation’s leaders, and then tell the nation if such did not constitute hate speech.
“We saw this trend early on and we warned the nation about it. The starting point was the rise of hate speech, fake news and disinformation. These were used in an attempt to downgrade the achievements of the Administration and to hoodwink an unsuspecting public into believing that the Administration has not moved the nation forward an inch since assuming office.
“Since 2016, we have been calling attention to the dangers posed by hate speech, fake news and disinformation. Our calls did not gain attraction until those behind the campaign sought to overwhelm the nation.
“The self-imposed IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is the master of hate speech. No one, including the same people whose rights he claimed to be championing, escaped his vitriolic and primitive attacks. We challenge all his sympathizers to scrutinise his incendiary, divisive and inciting speeches, the name calling and the derogatory remarks about the nation’s leaders, and then tell the nation if such do not constitute hate speech.
“Leaders of thought and commentators who have shown the inclination to accommodate Kanu and his excesses should say if this is what they expect from someone who wants to lead,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said the Federal Government quite aware that as “bloodied and battered IPOB staggers around,” the group’s next line of action was to externalise their lies and propaganda through use of fake video and by writing to the governments and the national parliaments of some Western nations to give the impression that they were victims of an ethno-sectarian violence orchestrated by the government, and, therefore, needed protection.
While warning against the proposed next step being considered by IPOB, the said such move should be seen as a blatant lie, positing that It was not in the agenda of the Buhari Administration to suppress the country citizenry for whatever reasons.
“Not even the excessesof some people on the Social Media have forced the government to do anything that will stifle press freedom or freedom of expression. The truth is that IPOB is being sponsored to destabilize our nation. It serves no other purpose beyond that,” he declared.
The minister, therefore, appealed to the media to show greater restraint at this time, noting that the reporting of the IPOB issues, especially since the military deployed to the South-East for its exercise, tagged Operation Python Dance II, had been sensationalized by a section of the media.
He said the divisive and jaundiced opinions of some anarchists had been given a big play by a section of the media, declaring that this was wrong, reminding that the role of the media, especially the radio, in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda left about 800,000 people dead.
“Let me remind all of us of the role of the media, especially the radio, in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that left about 800,000 people dead.
“As I have always said, the Nigerian media cannot afford to sit on the fence or engage in irresponsible journalism when the issue at stake is the very survival of our nation. This is because no professionals, including journalists, can operate when a nation descends into anarchy.
“We must not, deliberately or otherwise, strengthen the hands of those who are bent on destroying our nation. Opinion leaders must also moderate their interventions in order not to aggravate the situation on ground.
“The Military has labelled IPOB a terrorist organization and the South-East governors have proscribed it. It’s time to let IPOB go to where it belongs, the dustbin of history! The tense situation triggered across the country by IPOB’s activities must be brought down. The media has a big role to play in that, and I believe we will all do the needful.
“In conclusion, gentlemen, IPOB- as I have stated- is nothing but a contraption by those who believe they have lost political power as well as the right to loot our treasury. It is a tool in the hands of the corrupt and disgruntled elements to sabotage the Buhari Administration. It fights for no one but the corrupt and the disgruntled. It seeks to set us apart as a people, exploiting our fault lines. Its modus operandi is to trigger conflagration nationwide through attacks and reprisals,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
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