The Nigerian military has declared the pro-Biafra separatist group, IPOB, a “terrorist organisation.”
The military made the declaration in a statement on Friday by the Director of Defence Information, John Enenche.
Clashes between soldiers on a military operation and IPOB members in Abia State have left several people wounded. Although there have been reports of deaths particularly of IPOB members, none has been confirmed.
IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanu are campaigning for an independent country of Biafra made up of ethnic Igbos. Although they had said their campaign was non-violent, Mr. Kanu said this week that that stance would be reviewed, accusing the military of attacking unharmed members of his organisation.
In his statement, Mr. Enenche, a major general, listed five reasons the military considered for labelling IPOB a terror group.
These 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, and militant possession and use of weapons (stones, molotov cocktails, machetes and broken bottles among others) on a military patrol on 10 September 2017.”
Read the military’s full statement below.
PUBLIC AWARENESS ON THE STATE OF INDEPENDENT PEOPLE OF BIAFRA
Meanwhile, the governors of the South-east states have entered into a meeting in Enugu State expected to deliberate on the recent rising tension in the region.
Some members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, during the week clashed repeatedly with soldiers as the military commenced preparations for exercise Egwu Eke II (Python Dance ll) which officially commenced on Friday.
The leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts remains unknown after the army stormed his country home in Afara-Ibeku, Umuahia the state capital on Thursday.
On Wednesday soldiers on show of force attacked journalists at the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, secretariat in Umuahia, the Abia State capital destroying gadgets and manhandling some of them.
The army later apologised for the assault on journalists.
Injured casualties have also been recorded by both the security agencies and the pro-Biafan group leading to calls by some Nigerians for the federal government to halt the exercise.
The Army has said the exercise will continue and was meant to check criminality in the region.
The governors are expected to meet with some leaders of the zone to deliberate and come out with a blueprint on how to address the situation and challenges being posed by Mr. Kanu and his group whose campaign for secession of the zone from Nigeria has generated lots of tension in the country.
As at press time, the chairman of the forum, David Umahi of Ebonyi State, and his Abia State counterpart, have arrived the Enugu Government House venue of the meeting; where they were welcomed by the state governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State and his Imo counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, have also arrived at the venue. So also is Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu.
Mr. Kanu had two days ago announced his withdrawal from the meeting citing security reports he got that the Army was planning to ambush and kill him on the way to the meeting. – PREMIUM TIMES