The separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is now a “militant terrorist organisation” in Nigeria, military authorities declared yesterday.
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said in a statement in Abuja that IPOB poses security challenge to the country by clandestinely and actively terrorising the general public.
It listed such acts of terrorism as the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads and extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
The DHQ therefore urged parents to dissuade their wards from joining the group.
The Director, Defence Information (DDI), Maj-Gen. John Enenche, who signed the statement, spoke of the determination of the Armed Forces to confront “all security challenges facing the country.”
Enenche also pledged the continued protection of lives and property in all parts of the country by the military.
He 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.
“Hence, the need to bring to public awareness the true and current state of IPOB.
“In this regard, some of their actions, clandestinely and actively, that have been terrorising the general public include: the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claimed formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads and extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
“Militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles, among others) on a military patrol on Sept. 10, 2017.
“Physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a checkpoint on Sept. 11, 2017 and also attempt to snatch their rifles.
”Attack by IPOB members on a military checkpoint on Sept. 12, 2017, at Isialangwa, where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female soldier’s rifle.
“From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wish to confirm to the general public that IPOB, from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation.”
The Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB was previously a relatively passive organisation.
In the last one year, however, it has become confrontational with the authorities, demanding the creation of an independent state of Biafra.
It is also threatening to make the November 18 governorship election in Anambra State impossible.
Kanu opted out of a peace meeting with South-East governors on the demands of his group scheduled for yesterday.
The army, earlier in the week, deployed soldiers to the Southeast for “Operation Python Dance II” aimed at getting them ready for battle.
The international community remains divided over a universally acceptable definition of terrorism, leaving individual countries, regional and international organisations to adopt a patchwork of approaches.
Nigeria’s Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 defines ”act of terrorism” as an act which is deliberately done with malice, aforethought and which:
(a) may seriously harm or damage a country or an international organization;
(b) is intended or can reasonably be regarded as having been intended to—
(i) unduly compel a government or international organisation to perform or abstain from performing any act;
(ii) seriously intimidate a population;
(iii) seriously destabilise or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation; or
(iv) otherwise influence such government or international organisation by intimidation or coercion; and
(c) involves or causes, as the case may be—
(i) an attack upon a person’s life which may cause serious bodily harm or death;
(ii) kidnapping of a person;
(iii) destruction to a government or public facility, a transport system, an infrastructure facility, including an information system, a fixed platform located on the continental shelf, a public place or private property, likely to endanger human life or result in major economic loss;
(iv) the seizure of an aircraft, ship or other means of public or goods transport and diversion or the use of such means of transportation for any of the purposes in paragraph (b)(iv) of this subsection ; *
(v) the manufacture, possession, acquisition, transport, supply or use of weapons, explosives or of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, as well as research into, and development of biological and chemical weapons without lawful authority;
(vi) the release of dangerous substance or causing of fire, explosions or floods, the effect of which is to endanger human life;
(vii) interference with or disruption of the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource, the effect of which is to endanger human life;
(d) an act or omission in or outside Nigeria which constitutes an office within the scope of a counter terrorism protocols and conventions duly ratified by Nigeria.
(3) an act which disrupts a service but is committed in pursuance of a protest. However, demonstration or stoppage of work is not a terrorist act within the meaning of this definition provided that the act is not intended to result in any harm referred to in subsection (2) (b)(i), (ii) or (iv) of this section.