The Federal Government has alleged that the financial headquarters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is in France adding that some other foreign countries also fund the group’s activities.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council Meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday, September 20.
Mohammed reiterated that IPOB is a contraption against the Buhari-led administration which is being sponsored by those he described as “The Coalition of the Politically-Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters.
He further disclosed that the group is being sponsored by some foreign countries with a large chunk of its financing coming from France.
However, Lai Mohammed stated that it will be difficult to block the funding because some other innocent Nigerians were receiving money from France for legitimate reasons. His words:
“We have the records, we know IPOB collects money from many people in 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 people sending money to their 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.”
The minister said one of the measures the government employed in tackling IPOB before the deployment of soldiers in the South-East, was to reach out to foreign governments for collaboration. However, he lamented that the process is long and not always successful.
For instance, Mohammed recalled that the Federal Government asked the United Kingdom to help shut down Radio Biafra in London from where Kanu was transmitting hate speeches, but the UK Government rejected the request based on the need to protect freedom of speech.
“In tackling IPOB again, there are a few very naughty diplomatic issues which you need to skip. For instance, who does not know that the IPOB international radio is located in London? We know the diplomatic moves we have been taking and approaching the UK and all the damage Radio Biafra has done but they don’t see it that way; for them, it is about freedom of expression,” the Minister said.
Declining not to join the debate over the legality or otherwise of the proscription of the group as a terrorist organisation, Mohammed argued that Kanu was caught on video in London in 2015 soliciting money for weapons.
“If we have a person in Nigeria openly soliciting 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.
“I think anybody, who has watched Nnamdi Kanu’s videos, knows that anywhere he goes, he openly solicits arms and funds. I have a lot of quotations from him as to the violent nature of IPOB. In one of his videos, he said if he was arrested, his boys should burn down the country,” the Minister said.
Mohammed wondered the mess Nigeria would have been entangled in if attacks in the South-east had attracted reprisals elsewhere in the country.
He noted that there would have been a conflagration of immense proportions but for the quick action of state governors in the South-east and the North.
“If not for the timely intervention of some leaders from the North especially governors from the zone and their counterpart from the South East, the country would have been engulfed in serious crisis,” he said.
He commended the Southeast governors for being proactive by “making it clear to IPOB that it has no support for its violent campaign.
“By its action, the Governors have cut off the oxygen that IPOB needs to survive. If the elected Governors of all the states in the South-east have banned the activities of IPOB, who then is the organization fighting for?” he said.