By Shitile Mbayansa, Abuja
Not minding the position of the Chairman of the National Assembly and President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, that the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was unconstitutional, the Executive Arm of the Federal Givernment has restated that the group remained proscribed, setting the stage for a political drama that unravels as the days go by.
The government, the Executive, at least, continues to insist that treasury thieves and frustrated politicians are behind IPOB.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also pointed in the dirdction of Nigerians in the diaspora, especially France of funding the proscribed group.
His words Wednesday in Abuja: “Let me tell you, the financial headquarters is in France, we know.”
Said Saraki last Monday: “I also wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by Governors of the South-east states and the categorization of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does not follow due process. Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect. I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process. This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operate by laid down process under every circumstance.”
In response to such comments, Lai told journalists at the Presidential Villa: that those pushing legalese and constitutionalism should forget it.
He added : ”This is not rocket science, any treasury looter would do everything possible to distract government. If by any act, God forbid it, Nigeria is today engulfed in war, and Nigeria is now involved in trying to quell unrest, will the courts be spared, what would be the first priority of government? It will be to quell that riot. So, its a way of distraction to ensure that government is not focused.
“So, its not rocket science that a person today who has a case in court or almost going to jail will try and cause confusion, he would go and add and support IPOB.
“We have the records, we know IPOB collects money from many people from diaspora, they collect money from many people in Nigeria, they collect money from some foreign countries, this is clear.
“Let me tell you, the financial headquarters is in France, we know. But you see, can you as a government stop sending money to your parents? You have to block the sources of finance.
“It is incontrovertible that some people in diaspora contribute money to IPOB, where does he get his money from, we know this as a fact, again there are a few very naughty diplomatic issues which you need to skip, for instance who does not know that the IPOB internal radio is located in London, we know the diplomatic moves we have been taking and approaching the UK, all the damages its done but they don’t see it that way, for them its about freedom of expression.
“If we have a person in Nigeria openly soliciting arms to come and fight the UK, what would you think of, would you consider that freedom of expression? And this is a country that also has had a history. What did IRA do to be labeled a terrorists organisation? They were planting bombs, they were fighting the British army, I don’t want any diplomatic row, we know for a fact where the funding is coming from and we are going to stop them but its difficult to stop them and we have been working on it and we will not stop.
…Where any group crosses the line by engaging in violence, it risks being cut to size, and that’s exactly what has happened to IPOB.”
“I am not interested in the semantics or legality of troops deployment or the proscription of IPOB. All I know is that IPOB has engaged in terrorist activities.
“To those who have engaged in semantics or legality, I ask: Which country in the world will tolerate those activities I have listed above?
“I have a lot of quotations from him as to the violence intention of IPOB, in one of his videos he said if he is arrested his boys should burn down the country.
“The same Kanu went on television a few days ago saying he was sleeping at about 4:30pm in his house in Umuahia and then some solders were making noises they were disturbing his sleep and his boys stopped them.
“I ask him, which country in the world would tolerate this. Unfortunately, Nigerians we have short memories at times, or we tend to be very mischievous because this thing is being turned into oh! the North is persecuting the south east or Muslims persecuting christians
“We have forgotten that in 1983 there was a group called Maitatsine in Kano, they were crushed by Shagari government, they were muslims and northerners.
“When they relocated to Burukutu they were again crushed by Shagari, when Buhari became Head of State, the same Maitatsine raised their head, he chased them far into the Chad republic as then the Head of State.
“I remember that time he was accused by America of trying to expand Ghadafi’s agenda.
“Abacha in his own time dealt also with Maitatsine and he was a Muslim. President Yar Adua in 2010 was on his way to the airport when he got a report about Boko Haram, he sent army to go and destroy them, these were muslims from the north dealing with essentially islamic muslim insurgencies. Anything about insurgence or terrorists act you don’t think about religion, you don’t think about ethnicity, you think about the unity of the country.
“Honestly Nigeria has been very very lucky, last week there would have been massive bloodshed if reprisals had taken place outside the south east and it didn’t take place because our traditional rulers, our governors and other leaders went out to pacify people and the kind of stories that has been trending on the social media has not helped thin
”To pacify the situation and they think its a joke, you can imagine what would have happened if the people of Kano or Kaduna started retaliation. So, we are in a very dangerous situation and actually we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. The peace that you are seeing is deceptive we must continue to work on it and we must continue to counter this very untrue narrative.
“Is there anybody here who can tell me which part of Nigeria genocide is taking place it is not true but of course we are in the era of fake news and artificial intelligence where you can make a video of what is happening in Iraq super impose pictures in Nigeria and voices and send it, people are gullible including some foreign countries.
“On the basis of that we have heard some funny bones saying that Nigeria should be expelled from the United Nations because they are perpetuating genocide, this government will not stifle anybody’s freedom of expression, but when you cross the line for the sake of national unity we won’t allow you.
“There is a procedure for proscription, the President must sign the proclamation after which the Attorney General will follow the procedure which he is doing.
“But for me do you want the President to wait for this to be put into law before you take action and stop looting or killing, where will Nigeria be today if there is conflagration in Lagos or Kano. Like the Governor of Abia said yesterday (tuesday) there are about 11million igbos living outside the south east, that is not a small number, its not a joke.