The Nigerian government has said that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is not set up to fight for the right of anyone or group but a tool by opposition to destabilise the country.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this at a news conference in Lagos on Sunday and alleged that IPOB was being sponsored by “coalition of the politically-disgruntled and treasury looters”.
He said the intention of the sponsors was to divert attention from the efforts of the President Muhmadu Buhari’s administration and obliterate its laudable achievements.
“They believe that by sponsoring this group to destabilise the country and trigger chaos, they will realise their ambition of escaping justice and then be free to dip their hands into the nation’s treasury again.
“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,” Mohammed said.
Justifying his claims, the minister recalled that IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was the same person who, during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, advocated the unity of Nigeria.
He said that during the period, Kanu led a protest at the Nigeria House in London against Boko Haram insurgency and in support of Nigeria’s unity.
He, therefore, wondered why Kanu would suddenly metamorphose into an IPOB monster who, was rather bent on dividing the country and setting the nation ablaze.
“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,” he said. Mohammed said that the self-imposed IPOB leader is the master of hate speech, incendiary, divisive and inciting speeches.
He noted that the activities of IPOB, “a rag tag mob” and its gullible supporters had in the past days reached crescendo and threatening the unity of the nation.
“They set up parallel military and para-military organisations, mount road blocks and even confront the Nigerian military.
“Their leader openly solicits for weapons and incites hatred and violence,” he said.
Mohammed said that the group had also formed a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation Biafra National Guard and engaged in physical confrontation with troops at a check point.
He said that government could no longer tolerate such excesses and commended the military for declaring the group, terrorist.
“No nation, not Nigeria, will allow that to happen unchallenged.
“The fact that Boko Haram festered because it was not decisively tackled by the immediate past administration meant we should never again give room for any organization to threaten the corporate existence of our country.
“This is why I want to commend the Nigerian military for once again, living up to its constitutional responsibility.
“But for its quick and decisive intervention, IPOB could have set the nation on fire. Thanks to the decisiveness of the military; today the governors of the states in the South-East have wisely proscribed IPOB.
“This step, though long overdue, is still commendable,” he said.
The minister cautioned against the group’s next line of action, which was to externalize their lies and propaganda to seek protection.
He said that IPOB had started 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.
“This is a blatant lie. It is not in the agenda of this administration to suppress its citizens for whatever reasons.
“Not even the excesses of some people on the social media have forced the government to do anything that will stifle press freedom or freedom of expression,” he said.
The minister said the group had started harvesting gory videos from distant past and other lands to hoodwink the public and international community into believing that its members were the victims of state-sponsored violence.
“Such videos, which have very high emotive quotient, are circulating on the social media.
“We call on all to subject all such videos to the greatest scrutiny so as not to be misled. In particular, we urge the international community not to jump to any conclusion on the basis of such videos,” he said. .
Mohammed appealed to the media to show restraint in its reporting of the IPOB issues.
He noted that since the military deployed “Operation Python Dance II” to the South-East, it had been sensationalised by a section of the media.
“The divisive and jaundiced opinions of some anarchists have been given a big play by a section of the media. This is wrong.
“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 professional, including journalists, can operate when a nation descends into anarchy,” he said.
The minister urged Nigerians to remain vigilant, resolute and say no to the incendiary and divisive tendencies of IPOB and its cohorts.