The Federal Government on Wednesday, hours before the court’s proscription of IPOB said it has traced funding of the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to France and the United Kingdom.
Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, said that Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the group, has been openly soliciting for arms from some of these foreign nations to fight the Nigerian government, a development that prompted the proscription of the group by South East Governors’ Forum while the Federal Government followed suit to label it a terrorist organisation.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari who is currently attending the 72nd Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 72) in New York, the United States, approved the draft document proscribing IPOB before jetting out of the country.
He said Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, would conclude the process after the proclamation has been signed by the president.
“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 11 million Igbos living outside the South East, that is not a small number, it’s not a joke”, he said.
All these developments came after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While also trying to justify the proscription of IPOB, Mohammed said when government got intelligence report of the relationship between Kanu and the foreign allies funding the separatist move, it really unsettled the Buhari administration and moves have been on to block those sources of funding.
According to the information minister, Nigerians should learn to do away with semantics or legality of deploying the military to the South East, saying no country in the world would tolerate the kind of anarchy IPOB almost caused the country.
“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 it’s a way of distraction to ensure that government is not focused, so it’s 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 add and support IPOB.
“We have the records, we know IPOB collects money from many people from Diaspora, they collect money from many people in Nigeria, they collect money from some foreign countries, this is clear.
“Let me tell you, the financial headquarters is in France, we know, but you see, can you as a government stop sending money to your parents, you have to block the sources of finance that is what I said recently.
“It is incontrovertible that some people in Diaspora contribute money to IPOB, where does he get his money from, we know this as a fact. Again there are a few very naughty diplomatic issues which you need to skip, for instance who does not know that the IPOB internal radio is located in London, we know the diplomatic moves we have been taking and approaching the UK, all the damages it has done but they don’t see it that way, for them it’s about freedom of expression.
“If we have a person in Nigeria openly soliciting for arms to come and fight the UK, what would you think of, would you consider that freedom of expression, and this is a country that also has had a history, what did IRA do to be labeled a terrorist organisation, they were planting bombs, they were fighting the British army, I don’t want any diplomatic row, we know for a fact where the funding is coming from and we are going to stop them but it’s difficult to stop them and we have been working on it and we will not stop,” Mohammed said.
While buttressing his statement, he said, “I am not interested in the semantics or legality of troops’ deployment or the proscription of IPOB. All I know is that IPOB has engaged in terrorist activities, viz: setting up parallel military and paramilitary organisations, clashing with the national army and attempting to seize rifles from soldiers, using weapons such as machetes, molotov cocktails and sticks and mounting roadblocks to extort money from people, among others.
“To those who have engaged in semantics or legality, I ask: which country in the world will tolerate those activities I have listed above? Which national army will look the other way when it is being attacked by a band of thugs?”