PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved the proscription of the Independent Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) as had previously been announced by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ).
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja on Wednesday.
Mohammed dismissed the issue of legality as had been stressed by critics, saying that if the president had been bothered by the legality of banning that group, the country would probably have been up in flames by now.
However, he conceded the rights to any group or individuals who desired self-determination in a non-violent way.
The minister gave reasons why IPOB was proscribed, maintaining that it had raised its own security force, armed and engaged in extortion of innocent citizen.
Mohammed praised South east governors for their stand against the secessionist group saying that they have cut off the oxygen IPOB needed to survive.
He said: “But before I proceed, let me state clearly that it is within the rights of individuals or groups to seek self-determination.
“But this pursuit has to be non-violent. Where any group crosses the line by engaging in violence, it risks being cut to size and that’s exactly what has happened to IPOB.
“I am not interested in the semantics or legality of troops deployment or the proscription of IPOB.
“All I know is that IPOB has engaged in terrorist activities, viz: setting up parallel military and
Paramilitary organisations, clashing with the national army and attempting to seize rifles from soldiers, using weapons such as machetes, molotov cocktails and sticks and mounting roadblocks to extort money from people, among others.
“To those who have engaged in semantics or legality, I ask: Which country in the world will tolerate those activities I have listed above? Which national army will look the other way when it is being attacked by a band of thugs?
“For those who are fixated with legality, I have good news for them: President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the process of proscribing IPOB, and the procedure is on as I speak.
“But I ask, if the President had been overly concerned with legality, where would Nigeria have been today? If attacks in the South-east had attracted reprisals elsewhere in the country, what would have happened.
“But for the quick action of state governors in the South-east and the North, there would have been a conflagration of immense proportions.
“Permit me to especially commend the Governors in the South-east for 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 organisation fighting for?”
Mohammed insisted that IPOB was being sponsored by anti-Buhari elements, treasury looters and disgruntled disgruntled politicians.
He added: “I did state, during my earlier interactions, that IPOB is a contraption against the Buhari Administration, and that it is being sponsored by those I call the Coalition of the Politically-Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters.
“I stand by that statement despite the noise emanating from the usual suspects. To quote the title of a James Hadley Chase novel, The Guilty Are Afraid. I will add: The guilty are always overly agitated. Good for them.
“Finally, IPOB has decided to externalise its campaign. It has written to governments and parliaments in the West alleging genocide in the South-east.
“Even a dictionary definition of ‘genocide’ does not support that claim.
“IPOB has also engaged in using highly-emotive videos of killings, which it harvested from other lands and were doctored, to hoodwink the international community.”