Lai Mohammed, Minister for Information and Culture, says the world must designate and treat the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation.
This was contained in an article he authoured which was publish by the Washington Times, a top US newspaper.
In the article, Mohammed listed a number of quoted that were allegedly made by Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the IPOB, arguing that the comments, added to the fact that the group receives huge funding from all over the world, are enough proof to butress his facts.
Some of the alleged comments by Kanu include: “If they fail to give us Biafra, Somalia will look like a paradise compared to what will happen to that ‘zoo’ (Nigeria).
Others are: “I don’t want peaceful actualization (of Biafra)”; “We need guns and we need bullets”; “If they don’t (give us Biafra), they will die.”
Mohammed noted that “public announcement like these puts IPOB’s designation beyond doubt in most jurisdictions”.
“They are a terrorist organization, as ETA was in Spain, the Tamil Tigers was in Sri Lanka, and the PKK is in Turkey (all of whom are proscribed by the U.S. State Department).
“Whilst there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism, many nations’ characterizations closely correlate. Basic to all of them is this: the calculated threat or use of violence to further a political, religious or ideological cause.”
“Currently, streams of cash come from across the globe to swell the organization’s stockpile of weapons. Yet funding of terrorism is illegal in international law.
“Only with the group’s correct categorization will our international partners be able to halt the financing — and with it, IPOB’s future.”
Mohammed however agrees that “the threat posed by the organization may be low” as the group only commands “little grass-root support in the South East (the region it calls Biafra).”
He noted that all the governors in the region, as well as traditinal and religious leaders, have collectively condemned IPOB’s calls for secession and restated their commitment to the “absolute integrity of Nigeria”.
“Violence, much less terrorism, never solves grievance,” Mohammed wrote further.
“And for that reason, the overwhelming majority of residents in the South-East reject IPOB. They know the ballot box offers the best mechanism for redress.”
The IPOB was first designated terrorists in September 15 by the Nigerian Defence Headquarters, albeit contrary to the terrorism Act.
President Muhammadu Buhari then signed an executive order proscribing the group before leaving for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in the UK.
This was followed by a court order obtained from the Federal High Court, Abuja, following an exparte motion filed by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The order held that the IPOB is now an unlawful organisation in Nigeria and participating in the group’s activities or funding it could attract a 20-year prison sentence.
The order was officially gazetted, fulfilling all the requirements of the law with regards to proscription of an organisation, all in less than one month.
Nevertheless, Russell Brooks, spokesman of the United States embassy in Nigeria, told the media that the US does not recognise the IPOB as a terrorist group, adding, however, that “the United States Government is strongly committed to Nigeria’s unity.”