THE Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination (NINAS), which has staged protests in the United States against the Nigerian government in the last nine days, has accused certain state officials of sponsoring non-Nigerian counter-demonstrators to create confusion, saying that members will not be deterred.
Chairman of the alliance Banji Akintoye alleged Thursday that some black foreigners living in the US were paid $500 by an unnamed top government official from Kwara State and a popular journalist to stage counter-protest against NINAS.
“The ringleader of government officials from Kwara State and a top Lagos journalist are now in New York to start hiring black people who will pretend as Nigerians to stage a Pro-Buhari and one Nigeria protest to counter NINAS on Friday,” Akintoye said.
He explained that despite the intimidation, Friday’s grand finale one-million-men march in New York would be historic as President Muhammadu Buhari, who arrived in the city on Sunday to participate in the ongoing 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, was scheduled to present Nigeria’s statement to the Assembly today.
“We refuse to be rattled and we shall not be intimidated as no oppressor has ever triumphed against the collective will of the people. The people are the government and power belongs to the people,” NINAS said.
NINAS has rejected the 1999 Nigeria Constitution and insisted on regional referendums for what it calls ‘Self-Determination.’
The group has also canvassed an end to ethnoreligious killings in Nigeria and wants the government to expose and punish those funding terrorism.
Nigeria’s Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, told journalists in New York on Wednesday, that exposing sponsors of terrorism in the country would jeopardise ongoing investigations.
“The truth of the matter is that investigation is ongoing…I wouldn’t like to be pre-emptive in terms of making disclosures that would have the effect of undermining the successes we are recording as far as investigation is concerned,” Malami said.
Earlier, his counterpart in the Ministry of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed had defended the government’s Amnesty to repentant terrorists, explaining that in line with global best practice, ‘surrendered soldiers’ were to be treated as ‘prisoners of war.’
“You cannot just shoot them because there are international conventions that give rights also to prisoners of war. What the military is doing is that, when they surrender, they profile them to ensure that they are genuine and reintegrate them into the society,” he said.
However, many Nigerians do not trust the government to follow through with prosecuting these suspected sponsors of terrorism and are convinced they would be granted state pardons.
In 2020, 601 surrendered Boko Haram terrorists, including 14 foreign nationals from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger were pardoned and reintegrated back into the society upon the completion of a de-radicalisation programme.
Another 1,009 detained Boko Haram suspects were released by the military last July.