BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS
The Nigerian Army yesterday declared the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist organisation, calling on Nigerians not to join the group.
According to the Defence Headquarters, IPOB has not only formed a secret service and a national guard, but its members are also in possession of weapons, blocking public roads and are now extorting money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks.
Giving an update on the activities of IPOB, the defence spokesman, Major Gen John Enenche, said the group which now poses a security challenge in the country has been metamorphosing from one stage to the other.
He said, “After due professional analysis and recent developments, it has become expedient to notify the general public that the claim by IPOB actors that the organization is non-violent is not true; hence, the need to bring to public awareness the true and current state of IPOB.
“In this regard, some of their actions, clandestinely and actively, that has been terrorising the general public among others include the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, claim formation of Biafra National Guard, unauthorised blocking of public access roads, extortion of money from innocent civilians at illegal road blocks, militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on 10 September 2017”.
Enenche said the physical confrontation of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB actors at a check point onSeptember 11, 2017 and also attempts to snatch their rifles and attack the troops by IPOB members at a military check point on September 12, 2017 at Isialangwa where one IPOB actor attempted to snatch a female soldier’s rifle was an act of terrorism.
The Army spokesman continued: “From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to confirm to the general public that IPOB, from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation.
“Therefore, parents and particularly unsuspecting residents of the South East and other Nigerians should advice their wards to desist from joining the group. The Defence Headquarters restates its commitment to handling all the security challenges in the country and further assures all Nigerians of the protection of lives and property”.
S/E Govs Proscribe Group’s Activities
Meanwhile, governors of the South East geopolitical zone yesterday proscribed all the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
They called on all other aggrieved groups to articulate their position on all national issues and submit to the committee of governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the National Assembly members from the South East Zone, through the chairman of the South Governors Forum.
Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, disclosed this while briefing journalists on the outcome of their one day meeting with the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and members of the National Assembly from the zone.
He stated that all the governors of South East zone are mandated to ensure compliance in their respective states, adding that that they also reinforced their desire for the restructuring of Nigeria and that all national issues be discussed and amicably settled to achieve justice and fairness to every Nigerian.
According to him, the South East Governors Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and National Assembly also reinforced their commitment to a united and indivisible Nigeria.
He, however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the military from the South East, while the Police should be allowed to perform their constitutional role.
Governors of Anamabra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Abia States attended the meeting, while Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, was represented by his deputy.
IGP Deploys 500 Riot Policemen For Peace Restoration In Aba
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has deployed over 500 Police mobile force men to Aba to restore peace in the troubled city.
The Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Operations, Taiwo Lakanu, disclosed this yesterday during a duty tour to the Aba Police Area Command.
He said that the IGP directed that peace should be restored to Abia, hence the deployment of the mobile policemen who had assumed duty in Aba.
“You can see that we have emplaced security and that the whole place is quet and our men are on patrol. For now we are still monitoring and so, for now there is no problem. We are on top of the situation. We are working in tandem with other agencies and they are cooperating with us”, he said.
Northern Govs Assure Igbos Of Safety, Warn Against reprisal Attacks
Meanwhile, governors of the 19 Northern states have assured Igbos and those from other tribes residing in the North of their safety in the face of clashes between members of IPOB and Soldiers in Abia State, which has endangered some Northerners living in parts of the south.
Commending them for remaining for being nonviolent, the governors called on residents across the 19 Northern states to permanently sustain the peace, saying no law abiding Nigerian deserves to be punished for the mere fact that he or she happens to be living or doing lawful economic and social activities in any part of the country.
The governors spoke through chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum, Kashim Shettima, who is also governor of Borno State.
In a statement emailed to journalists by Shettima’s adviser on communications and strategy, Malam Isa Misau yesterday, the governors acknowledged that while they were aware of spill over concerns in Jos, Plateau State, they were also aware of the rapid step taken by their colleague, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State who immediately declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew that restored peace.
In the same vein, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State assured those residing in the state that their safety won’t be comprised, urging them not to panic.
A statement signed by his media aide, Abdu Labaran, noted that the governor enjoined residents in the state to focus on their legitimate endeavours.
The overnor who spoke against the backdrop of the heightened tension between the Nigerian Military and some irredentist militants in the South Eastern part of the country said Katsina State is safe for every resident, regardless of their relgious, ethnic and regional background.
“Let me once again call on and reassure our fellow Nigerians from outside Katsina, but who chose to live among us in pursuit of their livelihood, to go about their lawful activities with hope and confidence in the belief of our ability and willingness to give adequate protection to everybody without prejudice to any group”, he stated.
Also, Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, described the carnage in Abia and other places in South East as unfortunate, saying it is a calculated attempt to soak the country in tension and stir instability in the country.
Ganduje who summoned a meeting of all leaders of ethnic groups in the state called for peace, urging Northern youths to restrain from launching reprisal attacks.
He noted that, while the state government would continue to endorse peace and security, lives and properties of all residents of the state will be duly protected
“We have called you to give you confidence and to let you know that we are not asleep. We are working very hard, coordinating with various stakeholders to ensure peace prevails”, Ganduje said.
Similarly, Niger State governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, yesterday warned against reprisal attacks on anybody, following what he describe as unfortunate security challenges in the South East of the country fueled by hate speeches, violent agitation, rumour and sentiment on social media.
In a statement by his chief press secretary, Malam Jibrin Baba Ndace, the governor warned group of miscreants and troublemakers against any attempt to breach the relative peace and tranquility in the state, insisting that Niger State is for all Nigerians.
The governor said what is happening in the Southeastern part of the country should not be basis for any attempt at reprisal attack on innocent citizens.
He noted that it was the duty of the state government, first, to protect lives and property of its citizens and as such. Niger State government will not compromise in carrying out its constitutional responsibility when deemed fit.
On his part, Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, said yesterday that the state remains home for all, irrespective of religion, ethnic extraction or political persuasion.
He also confirmed that two persons were killed following the tension that engulfed the state on Thursday evening.
Lalong stated this when he met with community and religious leaders resident in the state, following the tension in Jos yesterday.
The governor also met with the Minister of Interior, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau , NSCDC Director General, the state commissioner of Police and other security chiefs in the state.
The event which took take place at Government House had various tribes and religious leaders present at the meeting.
At the meeting, Governor Lalong assured citizens of his administration’s commitment to peace and stability in the state, saying that all non-indigenes in Plateau were safe, even as he urged them to go about their legitimate businesses without fear.
Also, Nasarawa State governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, assured the Igbo community in the state of their safety.
He urged them to go about their normal businesses as government has put measures in place to guarantee their safety.
Almakura who spoke through his deputy, Hon. Silas Agara, shortly after a meeting with heads of security agencies in Lafia said the state government had already opened dedicated lines for any eventuality across the 13 local government areas and 18 Development Areas.
The state government provided the following emergency numbers for the members of the public to call for any emergency: 08112692680, 08108795930 and 08038487474.
On his part, Bauchi State governor, Mohammed Abubakar, condemned in strong terms the recent attacks on Northerners, just as he urged the relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to book.
Governor Abubakar stated this in a press statement personally signed by him and issued to journalists yesterday in Bauchi.
He noted that he was deeply concerned about the needless disturbances in some parts of the South East which caused fear and uncertainty in the nation.
‘’I therefore condemn strongly these callous acts and sue for calm, especially among those who feel hurt and aggrieved and may be therefore tempted to take the law into their hands. I urge the relevant authorities to bring to book the perpetrators and sponsors of this brigandage as quickly as possible so as to nip this crisis in the bud’’, he stated.
Arewa Youths, Ohaneze, Others Brace For Dialogue
Meanwhile, a dialogue to address the state of the nation by Arewa Youths and Ohaneze Youth Forum has been scheduled to take place on the 23rd of September this year.
A youth group, Political Leadership Amongst Youth Network (PLAY), is organsing the forum which will also have in attendance Oodua Nationalist Coalition and the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC).
The dialogue is aimed at providing a platform for stakeholders to discuss the affairs of Nigeria and proffer solutions to challenges facing the country.Speaking yesterday in Abuja, the chief executive officer (CEO), PLAY Network, Mr. Charles Okpaleke said the event seeks to provide a platform that brings together the youth groups to discuss and debate the future of Nigeria.
Okpaleke noted that dialogue will also help in proffering solutions that would help shape the nation’s future.
He lamented that since the inception of democracy in Nigeria, young people have never led national conversations that shape their future.
Igbos In The North Denounce IPOB
Meanwhile, the President General of Igbo Cultural Association (ICA) in Adamwa State, Chief Obonna Paul Ibere, said yesterday that the association has condemned in strong terms the current unrest in the South East.
Ibere made the condemnation during peace talks with Governor Muhammadu Jibrilla and security chiefs at Government House, Yola.
The ICA president noted with regret the deficiencies of members of IPOB for not allowing peace to reign in the Southeastern region.
The group condemned in an unequivocal terms the current unrest arising from the activities of IPOB.
“Anybody found guilty of committing crimes against the nation should be treated as an individual”, he said.
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