Mil­i­tary de­clares IPOB ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion

As South­east govs pro­scribe group

Weekly Trust - - Front Page -

Tony Adibe (Enugu), Li­nus Of­fiong (Umuahia), Ron­ald Mu­tum (Abuja), Lami Sadiq (Jos), Vic­tor Edozie (Port Har­court) & Maryam Ah­madu-Suka (Kaduna)

The De­fence Head­quar­ters (DHQ) yes­ter­day de­clared the In­dige­nous Peo­ples of Bi­afra (IBOP) as a mil­i­tant ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion. This came even as gover­nors of the South­east states met in Enugu yes­ter­day and pro­scribed IPOB in the en­tire zone.

De­fence spokesman, Ma­jor Gen­eral John Enenche, ear­lier said in a state­ment that the group which had posed a se­cu­rity chal­lenge in the coun­try, had been meta­mor­phos­ing from one stage to the other.

He said af­ter due pro­fes­sional anal­y­sis and re­cent de­vel­op­ments, it had be­come ex­pe­di­ent to no­tify the gen­eral public that the claim by IPOB ac­tors that the or­ga­ni­za­tion was non­vi­o­lent was not true.

“Hence, the need to bring to public aware­ness the true and cur­rent state of IPOB. In this re­gard, with some of their ac­tions, clan­des­tinely and ac­tively, they have been ter­ror­is­ing the gen­eral public,” he added.

Enenche listed ac­tiv­i­ties of IPOB to in­clude the for­ma­tion of a Bi­afra Se­cret Ser­vice, claimed 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 Septem­ber 10, 2017, phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion of troops by Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB ac­tors at a check point on Septem­ber 11, 2017 and also at­tempt­ing to snatch their ri­fles, at­tack 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.

“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 South­east and other Nige­ri­ans should ad­vice their wards to de­sist from join­ing the group,” he said.

He re­it­er­ated the com­mit­ment of the De­fence Head­quar­ters to han­dle all the se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the coun­try and re­as­sured all Nige­ri­ans of the pro­tec­tion of their lives and prop­erty.

South­east govs pro­scribe group

Mean­while, gover­nors of the South­east states met in Enugu yes­ter­day to de­lib­er­ate on de­vel­op­ments in the re­gion and pro­scribed the ac­tiv­i­ties of IPOB in the en­tire South­east zone, or­der­ing it and other ag­grieved groups to ar­tic­u­late their po­si­tion on na­tional is­sues and sub­mit to the Com­mit­tee of Gover­nors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Na­tional As­sem­bly mem­bers from the zone, through the chair­man of SGF.

The gover­nors also di­rected strict com­pli­ance with the pro­scrip­tion in all the states of the zone, and re-af­firmed their com­mit­ment to a united and in­di­vis­i­ble Nige­ria.

They also ap­pealed to Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari to “Please, with­draw the mil­i­tary from the South­east zone, while the po­lice per­form their tra­di­tional role of main­tain­ing law and or­der.”

Read­ing the 11-point res­o­lu­tion reached af­ter an emer­gency meet­ing of the South­east Gover­nors Fo­rum held at the Govern­ment House, Enugu, the chair­man of the fo­rum who is also Ebonyi State Gover­nor, Dave Umahi, ex­plained that the gover­nors took the de­ci­sion in view of the pre­vail­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the zone and its at­ten­dant con­se­quences.

They also re­stated their de­sire for the re­struc­tur­ing of Nige­ria where all na­tional is­sues would be dis­cussed and am­i­ca­bly set­tled to achieve jus­tice and fair­ness for ev­ery Nige­rian.

Em­pha­sis­ing that they had taken con­crete steps to pro­tect lives and prop­erty of non­indi­genes in the zone, the gover­nors said they were in touch with the North­ern Gover­nors Fo­rum, adding: “They had as­sured us of the safety of all our peo­ple liv­ing in the north and we have also planned for ex­change of vis­its be­tween the gover­nors and to re­in­force the con­fi­dence of Nige­ri­ans in this re­spect.”

Ad­vis­ing all res­i­dents of the zone to go about their nor­mal busi­nesses as the govern­ment in each state was com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing ev­ery­body, the gover­nors ad­vised the peo­ple of the South­east to “please be law abid­ing.”

“In keep­ing with our ear­lier po­si­tion, we wish to as­sure Nige­ri­ans that full in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing on all al­le­ga­tions of killings, maim­ing and other un­law­ful con­duct in the south­east zone within this pe­riod. The gover­nors and the se­cu­rity agen­cies are in agree­ment that ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion will be taken against any­one found cul­pa­ble,” Umahi said.

They fur­ther re­it­er­ated their ear­lier po­si­tion that the Novem­ber 18, 2017 gov­er­nor­ship election in Anam­bra State must hold.

The meet­ing was at­tended by the deputy pres­i­dent of the se­nate, Ike Ek­w­ere­madu, gover­nors Okezie Ik­peazu (Abia) Wil­lie Obiano (Anam­bra), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi) Ifeanyi Ug­wuanyi (Enugu) and the deputy gover­nor of Imo State, Mad­umere who rep­re­sented the gover­nor. Also at the meet­ing was the na­tional lead­er­ship of Ohanaeze N’digbo led by the Pres­i­dent Gen­eral, Chief Nnia Nwodo.

Obasanjo urges Buhar­iKanu meet­ing

For­mer pres­i­dent, Chief Oluse­gun Obasanjo, has ad­vised Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari to meet with IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Speak­ing to Newsweek in Lon­don, Obasanjo said a more con­cil­ia­tory ap­proach was needed.

“I don’t see any­thing wrong in that (Buhari meet­ing with Kanu). I would not ob­ject to that, if any­thing, I would en­cour­age it,” Obasanjo told Newsweek.

“I would want to meet Kanu my­self and talk to peo­ple like him, peo­ple of his age, (and ask) ‘What are your wor­ries?’ Not only from the south­east but from all parts of Nige­ria,” he said.

How the trou­ble be­gan

Trou­ble started when sol­diers were pa­trolling the streets at the an­ces­tral home of Nnamdi Kanu, Afara Ibeku, Umuahia town in Abia State on Sun­day.

They had moved around some ma­jor streets within the city cen­tre be­fore pro­ceed­ing to axis near Nnamdi Kanu’s res­i­dence. Ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents of Afara told Daily Trust that a group of sus­pected IPOB mil­i­tants then blocked the road against the troops along FMC-Word Bank Road in Umuahia about 6.00-6.30pm. They in­sisted that the mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles would not pass and started pelt­ing the sol­diers with stones and bro­ken bot­tles to the point of wound­ing a fe­male passerby and a sol­dier, Cor­po­ral Ko­la­wole Mathew.

The troops fired warn­ing shots into the air and the hood­lums dis­persed. No life was lost.

On Wed­nes­day, sol­diers at­tacked jour­nal­ists at the Nige­rian Union of Jour­nal­ists (NUJ) sec­re­tar­iat in Umuahia, de­stroy­ing gad­gets and man­han­dling some of them. The army later apol­o­gised for the as­sault. In­juries were recorded on the se­cu­rity agen­cies and the proBi­afan group.

They want to trig­ger war but we won’t oblige – Nnamdi Kanu

IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, told Daily Trust on phone that no amount of in­tim­i­da­tion would make him aban­don the strug­gle for the in­de­pen­dence of Bi­afra.

“They want to use force and beat us into sub­mis­sion be­cause they have lost the ar­gu­ment but they will fail. They want to trig­ger war but we won’t oblige them be­cause we are com­mit­ted to our non-vi­o­lent phi­los­o­phy,” he said.

Kanu said he had not re­ceived any in­vi­ta­tion from any se­cu­rity agency and won­dered why the army wound want to in­vade his home.

He added that three per­sons were shot while many of his broth­ers and sis­ters were wounded when sol­ders in­vaded his coun­try home on Sun­day.

He said the sol­diers stormed his home in an amoured tank and about three Hilux vans loaded with heav­ily armed sol­diers. He

added that the sol­diers were shot spo­rad­i­cally as they ap­proached his fa­ther’s com­pound, caus­ing panic and pan­de­mo­nium among res­i­dents of the area. Kanu added that they wanted to en­ter his fa­ther’s com­pound but that IPOB mem­bers quickly formed a hu­man shield around the com­pound and stoutly re­sisted them.

“I was sleep­ing when sud­denly I was wo­ken up by the blar­ing of sirens. Ini­tially I thought it was the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice who lives in the neigh­bour­hood that was re­turn­ing home. But the blar­ing per­sisted and was fol­lowed up by spo­radic gun shots.

“They wanted to bull­doze their way into the palace but IPOB mem­bers formed hu­man shield and re­sisted them. They wanted to break the shield and fired at three per­sons and wounded oth­ers be­fore leav­ing. Ev­ery­body in­clud­ing chil­dren were run­ning away in con­fu­sion.”

My son com­mit­ted no crime--Kanu’s fa­ther

Kanu’s fa­ther and the tra­di­tional ruler of Afa­raukwu com­mu­nity, Eze Is­rael Kanu, de­scribed what he called “in­va­sion” as “un­war­ranted and shock­ing”.

The monarch said his son com­mit­ted no crime to a war­rant mil­i­tary in­va­sion of his palace.

Army Head­quar­ters re­acts

Re­act­ing, the Nige­rian Army said Ex­er­cise Python Dance II which com­menced in the South­east states on Fri­day had been sched­uled since last year as part of train­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for the 82 Di­vi­sion.

Army spokesman, Bri­gadier Gen­eral Sani Us­man, told Daily Trust that the ex­er­cise was not tar­geted at any seg­ment of the Nige­rian so­ci­ety.

He added: “As a mat­ter of fact, it was be­cause of the en­cour­ag­ing feed­back that we had about the con­duct of Ex­er­cise Python Dance I in 2016 that brought the idea of hav­ing another ex­er­cise.”

He said: “We have had ex­er­cises in other parts of the coun­try. This year, we have had ex­er­cise Harbin Ku­nama II cov­er­ing the North­west zone and it was ex­tended to the North­cen­tral zone and was fur­ther com­ple­mented by Oper­a­tion Safe Haven. As soon as we are done with Ex­er­cise Python Dance II, we are em­bark­ing on Ex­er­cise Croc­o­dile Smile II which is also a sched­uled train­ing ex­er­cise in the cir­cle of the Nige­rian Army train­ing year, 2017.”

“And this time around, it would go beyond the South­south zone, it would be ex­tended to the South­west zone in­volv­ing 2 Di­vi­sion, 6 Di­vi­sion and 81 Di­vi­sion. We have had Oper­a­tion Sha­ran Daji, Oper­a­tion Awatse, all this year.

“Why should we have prob­lem in one state Abia? There is no re­ported prob­lem in Imo, Ebonyi, Anam­bra, Enugu and Cross River State.

It is so sad and un­for­tu­nate that a par­tic­u­lar group of peo­ple, for po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­di­ency and mis­chief, are try­ing to pit the mil­i­tary and Nige­rian so­ci­ety against each other. It is sad, it un­for­tu­nate.”

Us­man added: “This time calls for sober re­flec­tion and un­der­stand­ing, sup­port and en­cour­age­ment for the mil­i­tary and in any case, this oper­a­tion is go­ing to in­volve other ac­tiv­i­ties, there is no way the mil­i­tary will just wake up and tar­get a par­tic­u­lar seg­ment of the Nige­rian so­ci­ety.

“Peo­ple should en­cour­age peo­ple to live in peace, they should es­chew ru­mour mon­ger­ing, in­cite­ment and provoca­tive remarks that will pit the so­ci­ety against each other.”

“On our part, we would like to as­sure the public that we will do our best to dis­charge our du­ties pro­fes­sion­ally and re­spon­si­bly within the am­bit of our code of con­duct and rules of en­gage­ment.’’

He said peo­ple are blow­ing things out of pro­por­tion, adding, “These iso­lated in­ci­dences, in­sti­gated by mis­cre­ants and mis­chief mak­ers, there­fore, should not be taken as some­thing that should jeop­ar­dise the mil­i­tary ex­er­cise go­ing on in that place.”

“It is re­ally sad and un­for­tu­nate that peo­ple will not find time to ask ques­tions about the essence and ac­tiv­i­ties in­volved in re­spect of Ex­er­cise Python Dance II be­fore jump­ing into con­clu­sion.

He said, troops have been con­duct­ing them­selves pro­fes­sion­ally within the arm bit of the rules of en­gage­ment and code of con­duct and where there are noted in­frac­tions, ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures would be taken.

“For in­stance, when some group of sol­diers took the laws into their hands by man­han­dling those jour­nal­ists, the is­sue was re­ported, in­ves­ti­gated and promptly dealt with to the point that the lead­er­ship of the brigade went to the per­sons in­volved and the sec­re­tar­iat to ten­der an un­re­served apol­ogy, of­fer to pay for those items de­stroyed and re­quest for un­der­stand­ing.”

He added that the is­sue was thrashed to the ex­tent that they had a joint press con­fer­ence.

Re­spond­ing to re­ports that IPOB are tar­get­ing other eth­nic groups in the re­gion, he said there were re­ported at­tempts by hood­lums or mis­cre­ants to take un­due ad­van­tage of what has been hap­pen­ing to ha­rass and mo­lest some other per­sons re­sid­ing in the South­east.

“For in­stance, we have had in­ci­dents at Oy­ibo in Rivers and of course, Aba. Se­cu­rity agen­cies have risen to the chal­lenge. There are some mis­chievous el­e­ments ped­dling in­for­ma­tion to in­cite peo­ple and it is not true. Peo­ple should be wary about in­for­ma­tion on the so­cial me­dia and all the rest.”

Also, Ma­jor Oye­goke Gbadamosi, the as­sis­tant deputy spokesper­son of the 14 Brigade said its per­son­nel only fired warn­ing shots to dis­perse hood­lums who lobbed stones and bro­ken bot­tles against them dur­ing the pro­ces­sion in Umuahia.

He coun­tered the ac­count of Mr. Kanu that sol­diers stormed his res­i­dence, killing and in­jur­ing oc­cu­pants.

“The at­ten­tion of 14 Brigade Nige­rian Army has been drawn to fic­ti­tious news go­ing round es­pe­cially on the so­cial me­dia that troops in­vaded the home of Nnamdi Kanu and killed three per­sons.

“This is far from the truth. Rather, it was a group of sus­pected IPOB mil­i­tants that blocked the road against troops of 145 Bat­tal­ion while on a show of force along FMC-Word Bank Road in Umuahia town, Abia State at about 6.006.30pm. The troops fired warn­ing shots in the air and the hood­lums dis­persed.”

Abia State govern­ment’s re­ac­tion

Gover­nor Ik­peazu af­ter extending the three day cur­few im­posed on Aba to Fri­day, Septem­ber 15, said he would meet with Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari over the is­sue yes­ter­day.

Abia tra­di­tional rulers coun­cil

Tra­di­tional rulers in Abia State ap­pealed to the fed­eral govern­ment against the use of force to quell the ris­ing ag­i­ta­tion for Bi­afra.

The Chair­man of Tra­di­tional Rulers’ Coun­cil, Umuahia North Lo­cal Govern­ment Area, Eze Philip Ajo­muiwe, who made the ap­peal in Umuahia ad­vised the govern­ment to rather en­gage Bi­afra ag­i­ta­tors in di­a­logue.

The mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Ik­wuano/ Umuahia Fed­eral Con­stituency in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Sam I. Onuigbo, told Daily Trust that he had fol­lowed the events and to­tally con­demned the in­ci­dences.

“It is in­deed sad that things were al­lowed to de­gen­er­ate to that point. In the face of this how­ever, cau­tion, dis­cre­tion, tol­er­ance and wis­dom are im­por­tant virtues. So I urge all of our peo­ple to please ex­er­cise these virtues at this try­ing time. Be rest as­sured that govern­ment is work­ing hard to en­sure that the lives and prop­er­ties of its cit­i­zens are pro­tected. Con­tinue to be law abid­ing and not con­fronta­tional,” he said.

North­ern lead­ers in South­east, South­south re­act

The chair­man, North­ern Tra­di­tional Rulers Coun­cil for the South­east and South­south, Al­haji Yaro Dan­landi Hausa, told Daily Trust that most of the north­ern­ers had fled the state while oth­ers had de­cided to stay clear, but in Umuahia no in­ci­dent had been recorded.

He ap­pealed to both sides to main­tain peace be­cause the unity of Nige­ria is not ne­go­tiable and urged the state govern­ment and se­cu­rity agen­cies to con­tinue to pro­tect lives and prop­erty.

JNI warns against reprisal

The Jama’atu Nas­ril Is­lam (JNI) has warned Mus­lim youths and other north­ern­ers against reprisal over the in­ci­dent in Abia State.

The JNI Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, made the plea at a press brief­ing yes­ter­day in Kaduna.

He called on juma’at mosque imams across the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly in the North, to preach peace in their Fri­day ser­mons and urged South­east lead­ers to equally call on mem­bers of IPOB to stop at­tack­ing in­no­cent Nige­ri­ans in their re­gion.

Dr. Khalid Abubakar also urged se­cu­rity agents to en­sure they ar­rest and bring the per­pe­tra­tors of the at­tacks to face wrath of the law.

Wike warns IPOB against at­tacks on non in­di­genes

Rivers State Gover­nor, Nye­som Wike, yes­ter­day warned that the state govern­ment would not tol­er­ate any at­tack on other Nige­ri­ans liv­ing in the state by mem­bers of the In­dige­nous Peo­ples of Bi­afra (IPOB) or any other group.

The gover­nor also de­clared that Rivers State be­longs to all those who live in it, say­ing that the state heartily wel­comes any Nige­rian who re­sides in the state and car­ries our his/her law­ful busi­nesses. In a state broad­cast, Wike said: “The Rivers State govern­ment is se­ri­ously con­cerned with the re­cent ac­tiv­i­ties of the In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra (IPOB), par­tic­u­larly the at­tack on Nige­rian cit­i­zens liv­ing in Rivers State.

“Rivers peo­ple fully subscribe to Nige­ria’s cor­po­rate ex­is­tence and its in­di­vis­i­bil­ity. As a peo­ple we shall con­tinue to sup­port the unity and peace­ful co-ex­is­tence of all eth­nic na­tion­al­i­ties and work to­wards ac­tu­al­iz­ing our col­lec­tive as­pi­ra­tions for a just, in­clu­sive and pro­gres­sive na­tion. No­body should take our hos­pi­tal­ity and peace­ful dis­po­si­tion for weak­ness, as we are ca­pa­ble of deal­ing de­ci­sively with any sit­u­a­tion threat­ens peace and seren­ity in the State.”

La­long con­firms 2 dead

Plateau State Gover­nor Si­mon Bako La­long yes­ter­day con­firmed that two per­sons had lost their lives in the skir­mishes that en­sued in the city of Jos fol­low­ing re­ac­tions to the at­tack and killing of north­ern­ers in the South­east.

Gover­nor La­long also said Thurs­day evening’s re­ac­tion by youths in Jos took him by sur­prise, adding, “There are ad­van­tages and dis­ad­van­tages to the use of so­cial me­dia. When some­thing is hap­pen­ing else­where some­one will cre­ate a mes­sage and put it on­line for oth­ers to see and this usu­ally cre­ate bad feel­ings.”

He re­it­er­ated that Plateau state re­mains a home for all ir­re­spec­tive of re­li­gion and eth­nic ex­trac­tion and called on com­mu­nity and re­li­gious lead­ers to cau­tion their wards at home.

The gover­nor who sum­moned an emer­gency meet­ing with com­mu­nity and re­li­gious lead­ers from Jos and Bukuru at the Govern­ment House Lit­tle Ray­field added, “As lead­ers, be very sin­cere in tak­ing con­trol of your peo­ple. No­body is above the law and no­body has the right to chase any­body out of Plateau and any­one who at­tempts to cre­ate prob­lems will be ar­rested and face the law.”

Ear­lier, the Plateau state chap­ter of Jama’atu Nas­ril Is­lam is­sued a state­ment ap­peal­ing for calm and urged cit­i­zens to shun acts ca­pa­ble of dis­rupt­ing the hard earned peace in the state.

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Bu­ratai

Gover­nor Okezie Ik­peazu of Abia State

Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.