One can only watch in mortification and utter disbelieve the reactions that have trailed the designation of the secessionist Indigenous people of Biafra, IPoB as a terror group. The military first described IPoB as a terror inclined group after a security assessment of the modus operandi. This was again confirmed after its members pelted troops on drill mission under the Operation Python Dance II in south-east Nigeria. The reaction then was that the military has no powers to make such pronouncement and those that advanced this position conveniently ignored the fact that the military that has come under attacks from the group at different times know where the shoe pinches and has the benefit of intelligence to know how IPoP operates.
Then the Attorney General of the Federation approached the Federal High Court in Abuja, which under Acting Chief Judge Abdu Kafarati, made an order designating IPoB as a terror group and outlawed its activities within Nigeria. These orders were made on the strength of extant laws. Yet the rabble backing IPoB again rejected the stance with puke inducing explanations.
Unfortunately, the charade got even worse. The IPoB assets within the mainstream media thought of a new loophole to evade their group’s certain fate and thought the best strategy was to get the “almighty United States of America” to invalidate the orders of a competent Nigerian court. The spokesperson of the American Embassy in Nigeria, Russell Brooks, who could not resist the temptation of taking credit for creating one more troubled country of course tacitly backed a terrorist group against a sovereign country. Brooks played as he quipped that IPoB is not a terrorist organization under United States laws even though he knows that the group currently operates in Nigeria and not in Trumpland.
IPoB’s other propaganda handlers took things a step further by spreading fake news that other countries and international entities have condemned the designation of their group as a terrorist organization. Sadly, mainstream media and later the Federal Government bought into the fake news by seeking reactions to and reacting to assertions that were never made in the first place by those to whom they were credited. Such is the danger of fake news and those that deploy it as tools to further their objectives.
In the midst of argument over whether IPoB should have been declared a terrorist group or not its noxious leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who had earlier bragged of never going into exile, bolted underground even when he had previously bragged that he either gets “Biafra or death”. Still relying on the debate about the propriety of whether IPoB is a terror group or not, even when a court has ruled on this, Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, took the farce one notch higher by demanding that a court directs the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to produce his client in court.
Ordinarily, on the surface, Ejiofor is asking for the enforcement of Kanu’s fundamental human rights. But a deeper look is required here. First, why approach a court that he has declared as illegal and the one he had vowed never to recognize for the enforcement of his rights? Secondly, why submit himself to the jurisdiction of the zoo when he had said the only business he has with the zoo was to come and return to Biafraland with the severed head of Nigeria’s President? Furthermore, just how does this work, terrorists can now approach the court to make all manners of demands against the government and its agencies so that they can continue to cause havoc?
If anything has changed since the whole of the IPoB debacle has emerged it is the transformation of Nnamdi Kanu and IPoB members into victimhood to an extent that the things they did wrong are now being completely ignored. Contrary to claims that the military and federal government’s high handedness facilitated this transformation, one begs to differ that Kanu and his IPoB rabble are today successfully playing the victim because it was part of a well-orchestrated plan. It is a plan that many people, even by their silence, are actively part of while others are by their comments and active support helped to catalyze.
It is therefore imperative that we do not collectively lose sight of what the newly designated terror group stands for even as the debate progresses as to whether the sledgehammer approach on IPoB is commensurate or otherwise.
In contravention of the provisions of the constitution, IPoB is asking for Nigeria to be partitioned to allow some part of the defunct Biafra republic to become a new country. There are other separatist groups that support this idea and they have gone on to fly Biafra flag, issue a Biafra currency and passport and also set up revenue collection agencies. There are some so called enlightened persons that see nothing wrong with this – in fact they actively support the ‘agitation’. The only trouble is that the south-east is not the only part of Nigeria that has the copyright to claiming marginalization. If this logic allows IPoB to threaten the integrity of Nigeria and they go unchallenged then Southern Kaduna in Kaduna state, Idoma in Benue state, Edo North Senatorial District in Edo State, Egbiras in Kogi state and a host of other groups presently holding the sloppy end of the stick in their political equation will follow suit with such treasonable acts.
Secondly, there has been the shallow argument that the military has not finished disposing of Boko Haram and neither has killer herdsmen been declared terrorists. To this one must point out that it takes a supreme disposition to mischief to say Boko Haram has not been curbed to an extent where it has been pushed back to a limited geographical area when benchmarked against a similar group like ISIS, al-Shabab, al-Qaeda and the rest. As for the killer herdsmen, they have not come up to declare an army or military same way IPoB under Kanu’s leadership inaugurated Biafra Secret Service and a host of other militias in violation of Section 227 of the Constitution. There is a collective failure to seek answers to the pressing question of “what kind of military would stay indifferent while a parallel military declares its existence in the same country?”. Have we also given thought to the fact that it was a matter of time before the hoodlums in Biafra Secret Service, in their uniforms, intrude into Cameroon and have we considered that since Biafra is not known as a legitimate country the liability still falls on Nigeria?
Furthermore, many IPoB sympathizers have chorused how it is an ‘armless’ (sic) group but that is not to say members of the group are not armed and harmful. For full appreciation of the situation we must attempt a basic refresher definition of what terrorism is. Terrorism[noun] is defined as “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” On the strength of this definition IPoB has intimidated Nigeria’s civilian population with its barrage of hate speech and threat of violence against anyone what stands in the way of the breakup of Nigeria. There have also been several videos of the group’s members bragging about the arms they have stockpiled and we only need to gauge these comments against the large hauls of weapons intercepted by the Nigerian Customs Service. Not to be overlooked are pictures, including the one in which Kanu was flanked by assault rifles bearing IPoB members.
These also highlights the source of IPoB’s funding, which while being attributed to remittances by members in the Diaspora, is largely made up revenue from extortion, robbery, kidnapping and more recently confirmed – sponsorship from treasury looters. These are all crimes that are integral parts of terrorism financing worldwide.
Having outlined these acts that IPoB actively engaged in we must begin to ask how much of these infractions can be condoned by the United Nations, United States, United Kingdom, European Union and just any of the international entities that IPoB has approached to interfere in Nigeria’s affairs when the request itself is a violation of UN declarations. These nations have zero tolerance for Kanu’s likes because in a country like France he would have been executed in the course of being arrested and anyone that had ever placed calls to his mobile phone hunted down as accomplices and the media would cheer the security forces on for being pro-active in subduing terrorism. In UK, he would have been hauled off to jail as the leader of an extremist group as seen in the wholesale arrests of National Action members in that country.
Those from the south-east who know in what areas their region has been marginalized must therefore evolve to articulate their grievances in manners that get the understanding of citizens from other geo-political zones, who feel equally cheated in the running of the country. The south-east geo-political zone must further insulate its push for equitable treatment from the toxic ideology of IPoB while isolating the group for what it is, a terrorist organization.