France has denied the Federal Government’s allegation which claims that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has its financial headquarters domiciled in the European country.
In a statement addressing newsmen in Abuja, the Political Counsellor, Claude Abily of the French Embassy in Nigeria, in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja Thursday, expressed shock over Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed’s claim alleging that IPOB had stashed its funds in France through which it funds its activities.
On Wednesday, September 20, in a chat with State House correspondents in Aso Rock, the minister disclosed that the pro-Biafra group collects funds from people in the diaspora, as well as from foreign countries.
While challenging the Federal Government to provide documentary evidence to substantiate its claims, the French Counsellor said:
“The Embassy of France was surprised by the statement made yesterday by the Minister of Information and Culture indicating that the ‘financial headquarters’ of IPOB were in France.
“We don’t have any knowledge of a particular presence of IPOB in France and the Nigerian authorities never got in touch with the Embassy on this point. We stand ready to examine any information which could support this statement.
“Furthermore, we would like to reiterate that France actively cooperates with Nigeria in the field of security and that we strongly support the unity of the country.”
The Federal Government recently launched a military clampdown on the separatist group and subsequently proscribed it a terrorist organisation.
Meanwhile, the government’s decision to proscribe the group has been backed by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
In a statement on Thursday, September 21, in Abuja, the forum said the government’s decision was necessary to stamp out emerging terrorism in the South East.
While addressing journalists, leader of the forum, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, stressed that there is no issue or disagreement in the country or anywhere in the world that dialogue could not resolve. His words:
“The North recognises and acknowledges that there are demanding and legitimate questions on the current operations of the Nigerian state.
“The North has very clear ideas on all issues and positions that the nation sees as challenges and is willing to dialogue on all of them. “What the North will not allow, however, is to be stampeded into adopting an agenda and grand designs from other parts of Nigeria which will hurt its basic interests.
“The North will demand a respectful and responsible approach to its participation in the search for answers to the many questions confronting our country.
“We will also insist that the constitution and our national institution, such as the National Assembly be accorded due and appropriate recognition in all initiatives and efforts towards addressing our challenges.”
The forum also supported the deployment of soldiers to all areas where peace and security were threatened.