Nigerians Divided: US’ Rejects IPOB As Terrorist Group
The United States rejection of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terror group and proscribing its activities has elicited mixed reactions in the polity with some individuals and groups pooh-poohing and others hailing the move.
The ban was sequel to an ex-parte motion filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami on September 20, which Justice Abdul Kafarati, granted same day.
The US government in its reaction to the development, through the spokesman for its embassy in Nigeria, Russell Brooks said;
“The United States Government is strongly committed to Nigeria’s unity. Important political and economic issues affecting the Nigerian people, such as the allocation of resources, are worthwhile topics for respectful debate in a democracy.
“Within the context of unity, we encourage all Nigerians to support a de-escalation of tensions and peaceful resolution of grievances. The Indigenous People of Biafra is not a terrorist organisation under US law.”
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In a statement he issued on Sunday, Obono-Obla insisted that the activities of the pro-Biafra group qualified it as a terrorist group as defined by the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013.
Obono-Obla said IPOB terrorized, harassed or intimidated, “those who do not subscribe it to its separatists ideology and ethnic bigotry before its proscription.”
The Presidency is not alone in the condemnation of the US stance on IPOB.
The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET), a civil society group, condemned the refusal of the United State government to recognise the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group.
CESJET wondered why Rusell would make such comment when a “competent Nigerian court” has issued an order proscribing IPOB.
"The assertion ignored the fact that Nigeria is a sovereign nation that does not need the approval of another country to contain terrorists’ threats within its borders", the group said.
However, a host of others, hailed the US decision.
Former Aviation Minister, Fani-Kayode, who has remained unequivocal in his condemnation of the proscription of IPOB and its terrorist tag, took to his Twitter account to mock the Buhari-led Federal Government and Nigerians who supported the action.
He tweeted, “America does not see IPOB as a terrorist organisation – US Embassy.
“O dear! Where are all the ‘mumus’ that were clapping for Buhari?”
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Reno Omokri, former media aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, says the US has exposed the hypocrisy of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the war against terrorism.
In a video posted on his Facebook page on Sunday, Omokri said “killer herdsmen” in the country deserve the terrorism tag “much more” than IPOB.
He accused the government of ignoring the activities of the herdsmen — “identified as terrorists by the US and the UK” — and clamping down on IPOB.
He said while herdsmen are currently ranked the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the whole world by the global terrorism index, IPOB “is not even featured in the index, yet our government calls them terrorists”.
A lawyer, Hussein Omikunle, told Bounce News that the US is quite right in rejecting the tag of a terrorist organization placed on IPOB by the government.
He notes that IPOB is an armless association and its activities do not qualify it to be termed a terrorist group.