Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has warned his kinsmen that any war will jeopardise the lives of 11 million Igbo living in other regions.
According to the governor, there are Igbo currently residing everywhere across the country, even close to unlikely place like the dreaded Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
He alleged that some people attempted to hijack the recent activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in his state in order to cause conflagrations in the whole country.
The governor said this in an interview with State House reporters after a-30 minute meeting he had with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Ikpeazu said he briefed the Vice President on the violence by IPOB adding that the Southeast governors were still trying to stabilise the “fragile peace” in the region.
He said the governors from the region were banking on the assurance by northern governors that every part of Nigeria was safe for all Nigerians, including Igbo, to continue with their businesses.
Asked what message he had for the Igbos all over the world, he said the northern governors had assured that every part of Nigeria is safe for every Nigerian, including Igbos, to continue in their business and enterprise.
“I want to announce that the population of Igbos outside Ibo enclave is about 11.6 million, you don’t play with the lives of 11.6 million.
“So, we all have to be careful—the press, the leadership at the state level, the leadership at the federal government level, everybody.
“I think we should be guided by the rule of law and grow confidence in the Nigerian citizen that under our laws, he is protected.”
The governor said the mainstay of the economy of his state is trade which should not be allowed to be threatened by activities of IPOB.
Answering a question on what went wrong in his state, he responded: “It depends from what point to what point. But if you’re referring to what happened in the past one week, Nigerians know that for some time now that this group called IPOB were agitating for a separate nation called Biafra and that the home state of the leader of that group happens to be Abia State.
“As expected, when such things happen, there’s an interface between some members of that group and the military, and the theatre was Abia state. And some people attempted to hijack that event to conflagrate our country.
“To the glory of God, the rest is history. We’re still working to stabilize the fragile peace in the region. I thank God also for the instruments He used to be able to keep our country as one. We’re humbled by the privileges.”
He recalled that he had also assured the northern governors of the safety of lives and property of everybody residing in Abia, saying “I swore with the Bible to protect lives and property and because I take such things seriously, I’ll continue to protect the lives and property of my brothers and sisters irrespective of where they come from.
The main stay of our economy in Abia State is trade and commerce and I don’t think it’ll augur well for our economy if we make our kitchen the theatre of Biafra. A native wisdom in my place says you shouldn’t allow fight to ensue from your mother’s kitchen. It’s my responsibility also to grow prosperity from my state.
Ikpeazu said he would not dethrone the father of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, as being called for. “I clearly separate Kanu from his father.
The processes of handling traditional institutions are enshrined in the laws of our land. And traditional rulers who are members of our constituency have leadership. They will do the needful at the appropriate time. But for me, I think there is a clear division between Nnamdi Kanu and his father.”
FG moves to formalise IPOB as terror group
The Federal Government has begun the process to categorize the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a ‘terrorist organization’, Daily Trust has learnt. The Military Friday declared IPOB a terrorist organization but that view was modified by Monday.
The southeast governors at the weekend also proscribed the activities of the group in their geopolitical zone.
However, Senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki, in a statement Monday argued that the categorization of IPOB as a terrorist group was done without recourse to due process.
Speaking exclusively to our correspondent yesterday, Senate spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC) said the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has started that process stipulated in the Terrorism Prevention Act.
“We have it on good authority that as a result of the observation of the Senate president, the AGF has begun to follow the procedures stipulated in the Terrorism Prevention act. So that the organization can formally be proscribed as such,” he said.
The Senate spokesperson said the Senate president was not in any way against the categorization of IPOB as a terrorist organization, “all he was saying is that the procedure is not followed.”
Section 2 of the Terrorism Prevention Act which speaks on proscription of organization states that where two or more persons collaborate in an act of terrorism or promote, encourage or exhort others to commit an act of terrorism; or set up or pursue acts of terrorism, the judge in Chambers may on an application made by the Attorney General, National Security Adviser or Inspector General of Police on the approval of the President; declare any entity to be a proscribed organization and the notice should be published in official gazette and also published in two National newspapers and at such other places as the judge in Chambers may determine.
It provides that person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organization commits an offence under this Act and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 20 years.
The Act however said political parties should not be regarded as proscribed organizations and nobody should be treated as such because of his or her political beliefs.
Meanwhile, a cross section of senators interviewed yesterday backed the ongoing military intervention in the Southeast. One of the lawmakers who does not want to be named said the intervention was long overdue and kicked against the withdrawal of the soldiers in the southeast. “The military intervention is long overdue and I’m in total support of it. All those who are advocating for the withdrawal of the military men in the Southeast are hypocrites,” he said.
Stop blaming me for APC failure – Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday told the Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to stop blaming his administration for the failure of the All progressives Congress( APC).
The former president posted on his Facebook page .
He said at the press briefing, Minister of information accused the opposition of sponsoring IPOB, Jonathan challenged the minister to identify the opposition sponsoring IPOB, arrest and prosecute them.
The post reads: “The insinuations in the press conference given by Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Sunday the 17th of September 2017, accusing the opposition of sponsoring IPOB and the fact that he mentioned that Nnamdi Kanu preached Nigerian unity during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan is another clear indication that the present administration has not left propaganda mode for proper agenda mode two and a half year into their tenure.”
We’ll block IPOB’s source of funding
The Federal Government says it is aware of sources of funding of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and is taking steps to block them.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Tuesday when he appeared on a live TV programme “Good Morning Nigeria” on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
“Terrorists do not publish where their funding are coming from. But we know the countries that are supporting IPOB.
“We know the sources of their funding though I am not at liberty to disclose them here.
“We are taking steps to block them and we are also taking a lot of diplomatic actions in respect of the countries that are supporting them”.
The Minister said that most of the countries supporting the group were doing so based on ignorance.
He said they had been hoodwinked to believing that “Nigeria is a country where Muslims persecute Christians” and a country where there is genocide.
“As we speak today, IPOB has written letters to many Governments outside Nigeria, international parliaments sending fake and cloned videos claiming there is genocide in Nigeria.
The minister charged the international community not to adopt double standard in dealing with IPOB and to be more diligent before making any pronouncements.
He said what the countries would never accept in their territories, should not be condoned or encouraged in Nigeria.
The minister justified the actions of the military for declaring IPOB a terrorist group as well as its proscription by the South-East governors.
“There are a lot of arguments regarding the constitutionality of the action of the military and the South East governors.
“People must realise that we are dealing with issue of national security and I do not think that the military and the governors should fold their arms while the country is set ablaze.”