The Presidency has defended government’s action in proscribing the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as a terrorist organization in comparison to Fulani herdsmen who have been wrecking havoc in various communities across the country.
Speaking on Thursday, September 21, during an interview on Channels TV, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu stated that the Federal Government had closely monitored the activities of the group, its inability to embrace dialogue, hence qualified to be called a terrorist organisation.
“We looked at this organisation, we analysed it, and it fits the description of a terrorist organization. If it fits the description of a terrorist organization, then it is a terrorist organization,” he said.
Shehu Garba explained that government has not proscribed Fulani herdsmen because their activities are ‘criminal’ and not ‘terroristic’. He said:
“There is a difference between a criminal activity and a terrorist activity. Yes, some Fulani herdsmen are a criminal gang and they are being dealt with according to the law.
“But IPOB like Boko Haram has a territory they have carved out to themselves …as a sovereign state of its own…. They have shown the willingness to invade other neighbouring states.
“They have raised concerns in neighbouring Kogi and Benue states. They have said they are interested in taking over Bayelsa and Rivers. That is exactly what Boko Haram has done. This is not acceptable to the law of the country.”
The Presidential aide further explained that IPOB leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu had earlier aborted peace moves made by the governors of the five eastern states headed by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, as well as Senators from the region.
“IPOB itself has clearly indicated that they are not interested in dialogue. You know that in the run-up of these processes, the governors of the states in the region had put up a forum, IPOB said, ‘No, thank you, we are not interested.’
“The Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria set up a delegation and they said, ‘IPOB we want to speak to you,’ and they said, ‘no, thank you.’”
“Initially yes, it is clear that the leader had himself shut everyone out of the whole process,” he said.
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Meanwhile in reaction to the order which declared IPOB as a terrorist organization by the Federal High Court Chief Justice Kafarati in Abuja, the secessionist group said the court order is obnoxious and has placed the country’s judicial reputation on the line.
A statement signed by IPOB’s media and publicity secretary Emma Powerful on Thursday, September 21, accused Justice Abdul Kafarati of being more concerned about the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by President Muhammadu Buhari than he is with dispensing justice without fear or favour. The statement read in part:
“The world can now clearly see there is something fundamentally wrong with the Nigerian psyche and it’s propensity to reward evil and punish good. Nigeria will go down in history as the only country on earth to proscribe a peaceful organisation whilst blood thirsty violent marauders are given financial inducements to stop killing their innocent victims.”
IPOB also noted that Justice Kafarati’s order came after another judge of the Federal High Court, Binta Nyako ruled that IPOB is not an illegal organisation.
“It’s also very appalling and an affront to common sense that the judiciary in Nigeria always allow itself to be manipulated and messed about by whichever government is in power but more so in this dictatorial APC regime as demonstrated through this injudicious order granted by Justice Kafarati proscribing IPOB.
“It has inadvertently made itself a laughing stock in the judicial world. No wonder more civilized parts of humanity sometimes see we Africans as being incapable of mental development beyond self preserving primitive alliances.
“Legal practitioners all over the world would be wondering what caliber of people make it to the bench in Nigeria if a judge can order the banning of an association that has no history of violence whatsoever,” the statement said.