The Federal Government yesterday justified the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (SAN).
Minister of Information Lai Mohammed said IPOB’s leader Nnamdi Kanu’s utterances and actions led to the group’s proscription.
But, the President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, described IPOB’s proscription as “extremely unfair”.
They spoke on a BBC World Service programme, Focus on Africa.
Asked why IPOB was categorised as a terrorist organisation, Mohammed said: “The acts and utterances of IPOB were acts and utterances of terrorists.
“For instance, Nnamdi Kanu was caught on tape saying that he wants Biafra, and not peacefully, but by force, and that if they don’t get Biafra, Somalia would be a paradise with the kind of mayhem…”
When the anchor said Kanu was “a man who was talking without any weapons whatsoever,” the minister said it was also Kanu who openly sought for arms and set up a parallel security organisation.
He said: “This is also the same man who openly solicited for arms, the same man who set up his own Biafran National Guard, his own Biafra Secret Service, and the same man who actually attacked army formations.”
Asked what he made of the fact that the United States does not categorise IPOB as a terrorist group, Mohammed said America’s position was “very unfortunate”.
“That’s very unfortunate, because if countries decide to pick and choose which organisations are terrorists and which are not, bearing in mind that terrorism has no boundary… I think every country should work together to ensure that terrorism does not thrive,” he said.
Asked by the anchor why other armed groups in Nigeria were not declared terrorist organisations, yet IPOB that did not “raise so much as a single cutlass against the Nigerian state” was so categorised, Mohammed said acts of criminality were different from acts of terrorism.
“I think acts of criminality should not be confused with terrorist acts. When an organisation decides to not just attack the army, but sets up its own parallel government, openly solicits for arms all over the world, issuing its own passports and its own currency, does not recognise your government, then it becomes a different thing,” he said.
Asked if he was he worried about IPOB being driven underground and becoming a militant group, the minister replied: “Nigeria is so fragile that if we allow this kind of thing to go on, and there are reprisal attacks in other parts of the country, the whole country will be endangered.”