The federal government has described the activities of members of the indigenous people of biafra (IPOB) as an orchestrated plot by opposition elements to destabilise the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
It said those behind the sinister plan are the politically disgruntled treasury looters who think that by sponsoring IPOB to disrupt Nigeria and cause confusion, they can be able to evade justice and get themselves free to loot the country dry again.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made government’s position known yesterday in Lagos, urged Nigerians to understand that against popular belief, “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 destabilize 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”, he added.
Speaking to journalists on the state of the nation, especially on the recent upheaval in the South East following the clampdown on the group by Operation Python Dance II, the minister noted that the past few days had been a trying one for the country, “with the activities of the so-called IPOB reaching a crescendo and threatening the unity of our dear nation, Nigeria.
“A rag tag mob that calls itself IPOB and its gullible supporters felt they could seize a large swathe of the Nigerian territory, set up parallel military and para-military organizations, mount road blocks and even confront the Nigerian military. Their leader openly solicits for weapons and incites hatred and violence”, he stated.
He however disclosed that “Some of the group’s atrocities have been well documented by the military, which has labelled IPOB a terrorist organization”.
According to the minister, such atrocities include the formation of a biafra secret service, claimed formation of biafra national guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads, extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks, as well as possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on 10 September, 2017.
He noted that IPOB engaged in physical confrontation with troops at a check point on 11 September 2017, during which they attempted to snatch soldiers’ rifles, and carried out an attack on a military check point on September 1, 2017.
He, however, stated that no nation, including Nigeria will allow that to happen unchallenged, stressing that the fact that Boko Haram festered because it was not decisively tackled by the immediate past administration meant the nation should never again give room for any organisation to threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria.
Mohammed commended the Nigerian military “for once again living up to its constitutional responsibility”, noting that but for its quick and decisive intervention, IPOB could have set the nation on fire.
He also lauded the governors of the states in the South East for proscribing IPOB, saying the step, “though long overdue, is still commendable”.
He noted that the activities of IPOB, which became heightened with the advent of the current administration, 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 that will rather set the nation ablaze”, he pointed out.
Mohammed further warned against the group’s next line of action, which he said is to “externalize their lies and propaganda”.
He continued: “Now they are writing to the governments and the national parliaments of some Western nations to give the impression that they are victims of an ethno-sectarian violence orchestrated by the government, hence they need protection.
“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. The truth is that IPOB is being sponsored to destabilize our nation. It serves no other purpose beyond that”.
The former APC spokesperson also noted that IPOB is also engaging in a massive harvesting of gory videos from the distant past and from other lands to hoodwink the public, and in particular the international community, into believing that they are the victims of state-sponsored violence.
Such videos, which have very high emotive quotient, he said, are circulating on the social media, just as he called on every Nigerian 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.