Military declares IPOB terrorist group

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The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu / AFP PHOTO / STEFAN HEUNIS

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• Abia Govt Extends Curfew In Aba

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday declared the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a “terrorist organization.”

A statement signed by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Maj. Gen John Enenche in Abuja yesterday listed reasons why the group was declared a terrorist organization to include the formation of a Biafra Secret Service; formation of Biafra National Guard; unauthorized blocking of public access roads; extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.

Others include: Militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on the September 10; physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a checkpoint on September 11, 2017 and also attempts to snatch their rifles and attack by IPOB members at a military checkpoint on September 12, 2017, at Isiala Ngwa, where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female soldier’s rifle.

Enenche said 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.

The statement reads: “From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to confirm to the general public that IPOB from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation.

“Therefore, parents and particularly unsuspecting residents of the South East and other Nigerians should advice their wards to desist from joining the group.

“The Defence Headquarters restates its commitment to handling all the security challenges in the country and further assures all Nigerians of the protection of lives and property.”

In a swift reaction, the IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu told The Channels Television in a telephone interview yesterday that IPOB is a non-violent group and should not be tagged a terrorist group.

When asked why the group was recruiting a secret army, Kanu said that his group was not recruiting any secret army, but a vigilante group. He said his group would follow due process in challenging the declaration by the army.

Also speaking, the former president Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Dozie Ikedife, told The Guardian yesterday that he wondered how the military arrived at declaring a non-violent group like IPOB a violent group.

“I challenge the military to define what is a terrorist group and how IPOB was tagged one. Well, I am very surprised. But this may be a case of calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. The world is watching,” Ikedife said.

Also in a related development, Abia State government has yesterday extended the curfew imposed on Aba, the commercial hub of the state till Sunday.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew was earlier scheduled to end yesterday. The curfew was imposed following violence between members of the pro-Biafra separatist group, IPOB, and soldiers in the state.

According to a statement by Enyinnaya Appolos, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, the state government has also postponed the resumption of schools in the state. Primary and secondary schools in the state, initially scheduled to resume on September 18, will now resume on September 25.

Investigation reveals that the curfew may be extended further, unless the security concerns in the state are addressed properly before Sunday. There have been series of clashes between soldiers on a military operation and IPOB members in Abia State, which has left several people wounded.

Leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu and his supporters have been campaigning for an independent country of Biafra made up of ethnic Igbos. But Kanu said this week that the group was non-violent, adding that their stance would be reviewed and accused the military of attacking unharmed members of his organisation.

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