Full Text Delivered At A Press Conference By The Centre For Social Justice, Equity And Transparency (CESJET) On The Proscription And Designation Of The Indigenous People Of Biafra (Ipob) As A Terror Group Held In Abuja On Sunday September 17, 2017.
Gentlemen of the press,
The Defence Headquarters on Friday September 15, 2017 designated the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terror organization citing the many activities and characteristics of the group as reason for its decision. On the same date, the South-East Governors’ Forum proscribed IPOB and its activities within the jurisdiction of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states, which have been the hotbed of the destructive activities of IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) lauds the Nigerian Military for taking the bold step and doing the needful by declaring IPOB as what it is as only an institution that has the interest of the country at heart could have marshaled such political will. We commend the Army for its decision to launch Operation Python Dance II, which we believe would flush out the criminal elements that usually make life unbearable for Nigerians in this part of the country.
CESJET commend the South-East Governors for daring to proscribe IPOB even when they are daily blackmailed politically with threats of being labeled as traitors of their ethnicity. We implore the governors to back the proscription order up with actions. They must immediately audit their cabinets to identify IPOB supporters and sympathizers in their folds since such people can sabotage them from inside. The governors should charge traditional and religious leaders within their states to walk back the inflammatory support they had given the terror group in the past.
We however note that the Governors did not prescribe any punishment for these terrorists for the evil they had brought upon the land in the last few years. There was neither any indication as to what would happen to anyone that continues to carry out activities under the name of IPOB. Furthermore, nothing was said of the other franchises that the terrorists use to operate, like the Biafra Zionists Movement. They did not talk about their sponsors and sources of funding. There was no mention of justice for the innocent Nigerians killed by these miscreants in the last few days. These are questions still begging for answers.
The South-East Governors must therefore be categorical in the terms of reference that security agencies will act upon to enforce the proscription of the group. We also observed that there was no call for the immediate arrest of Nnamdi Kanu as the leader of IPOB terrorist group or any other person who goes out in the name of the group or its violent agitation. All these people, including the lawyer to Kanu, are accomplices that must be treated as such.
We make these points because the serpent of terrorism has only been struck as far as the IPOB monster is concerned. The head of the snake has not been cut off so the country cannot afford to be complacent at this point. Since the designation of IPOB as a terror organization is merely a first step in restoring sanity to that part of Nigeria, other steps necessary for peace and confidence building must be immediately activated.
We therefore urge the Attorney General of the Federation to in line with the Terrorism Prevention (Amended) Act 2013 take the necessary steps to nationalize and gazette the decision of the South-East Governors. This is to ensure that the terrorists no longer torment the peace of anyone in the name of IPOB anymore.
The National Assembly, the Presidency (Executive) and the Judiciary should adopt a common front in dealing with the menace of IPOB as a terror group by taking all the steps expected of them. No room should be left for these terrorists to maneuver or manipulate the system to continue intimidating and threatening citizens. Since IPOB reportedly enjoyed massive financial, intellectual and political support from highly placed persons from the South-East, we proposed that the Federal Government delivers an amnesty package for those who funded or supported IPOB up until Friday September 15, 2017 to offer them the chance of distancing themselves from the terror group. Anyone subsequently found to be aiding and abetting the group should be treated in accordance with the Terrorism Prevention (Amended) Act 2013.
The international dimension must not be neglected. The designation of IPOB as a terrorist group should be strongly communicated to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The world must be urged to designate IPOB as an International Terror Group since it has presence in Germany, United Kingdom, United States and other countries. This is important to ensure that fleeing IPOB members do not regroup in any of these countries to plot attacks against Nigeria.
Our expectation is that law enforcement agencies would henceforth track the finances of IPOB with a view to unmasking those that are financing the terror group. The communication of the terror organization should also be monitored to unmask those that are planning to destabilize Nigeria. Anyone found colluding with the group should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
We appeal to the media, especially those that had lent their space to members and supporters of IPOB to reassess their position so that they would not unwittingly fall foul of the anti-terror laws. They must pay particular attention to their comment section which the terrorists have used for recruiting, brainwashing members, threatening Nigerians with hate speech and for passing cryptic messages about the evils they plan to commit. No section of the country can afford to be the weak link in the effort to rid Nigeria of terrorism.
We urge the law enforcement agencies and the military to ensure that the same treatment is extended to any and all groups threatening the peace of Nigeria so that there would be no room for anyone to cry marginalization or ill-treatment. Personnel deployed to contain these terrorists must be warned to adhere to approved rules of engagement and to ensure that there are no cases of violation of human rights.
Finally, CESJET is appealing to the Governors of South-East states, and all Governors in Nigeria, to genuinely commit to delivering on governance in a way that build infrastructures, economic opportunities and creating employment while reducing corruption since the widespread poverty in the land is largely responsible for the agitation for restructuring.
Comrade Ikpa Isaac
CESJET, Executive Secretary