FG Block IPOB’s Source Of Funding, NAF Deploys Aircraft To Support Troops
The federal government has said it is aware of the sources of funding of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and is taking steps to block them.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this Tuesday when he appeared on a live television programme on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).
He made the allegation just as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) announced that it has deployed some of its air assets, including the Alpha Jet aircraft, to its 115 Special Operations Group in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to support the ongoing Nigerian Army exercise, Operation Python Dance II, in the South-east and some states in the South-south.
Also, the Igbo socio-cultural group Ohanaeze Ndigbo Tuesday warned courts in the country not to allow themselves to be used to undermine democracy by granting frivolous orders against IPOB.
Ohanaeze’s warning came against the backdrop of the move by the federal government to proscribe the separatists group, which is pushing for the break-up of Nigeria and realisation of the Republic of Biafra.
THISDAY had exclusively reported Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday signed the presidential proclamation proscribing IPOB, effectively initiating the formal process of banning the group in accordance with the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
It also paved the way for the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to head to court to give legal backing to the presidential proclamation.
Speaking on the television programme, Mohammed said: “Terrorists do not publish where their funding is coming from. But we know the countries that are supporting IPOB.
“We know the sources of their funding though I am not at liberty to disclose them here.
“We are taking steps to block them and we are also taking a lot of diplomatic actions in respect of the countries that are supporting them.”
Mohammed observed that most of the countries supporting IPOB were doing so based on ignorance, adding that they had been hoodwinked to believing that “Nigeria is a country where Muslims persecute Christians” and a country where there is genocide.
“As we speak today, IPOB has written letters to many governments outside Nigeria and international parliaments, sending fake and cloned videos claiming there is genocide in Nigeria,” he stated.
The minister charged the international community not to use double standards in dealing with IPOB and to be more diligent before making any pronouncements.
He said what the countries would never accept in their territories should not be condoned or encouraged in Nigeria.
The minister justified the action of the military for declaring IPOB a terrorist group as well as its proscription by the South-east governors.
“There are a lot of arguments regarding the constitutionality of the action of the military and the South-east governors.
“People must realise that we are dealing with issues of national security and I do not think that the military and the governors should fold their arms while the country is set ablaze.
“I have heard a lot of comments as to whether the military has the right to declare IPOB a terrorist group
“What the military has done is to catalogue all the activities of IPOB, which are not different from that of terrorist groups,” he said.
Mohammed said IPOB set up a para-military organisation, a parallel military group – the Biafra Secret Service and Biafra National Guard.
He alleged that the group was attacking army installations and soldiers at checkpoints and extorting money from innocent people.
“IPOB activities are not jokes. If there had not been the proactive actions on the part of the military and the South-east governors, there would have been retaliations from other regions and the entire country will be set on fire.
“We cannot be talking of semantics or procedure when the nation is moving towards a crisis and the precipice.
“It is only in a Banana Republic that you can see non-state actors doing what IPOB is doing.
“The actions by the military and the governors should be seen from the perspective of ensuring internal security and averting chaos,” he said.
The minister reiterated his position that IPOB was being sponsored by the association of disgruntled politicians and treasury looters to discredit the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He admonished the media and opinion leaders to be circumspect in their publications and discussions on IPOB in order not to aggravate the crisis.
“The kind of comments and headlines in the media as well as comments from certain quarters are the type that give oxygen and confidence to the IPOB.
“They must exercise restraint because the only reason we practice our profession or become a commentator is simply because there is peace in the country,” he said.
NAF Deploys Air Assets
Coming on the heels of the information minister’s allegations, the NAF Tuesday stated that it has deployed some of its air assets, including the Alpha Jet aircraft, to its 115 Special Operations Group in Port Harcourt, to support the ongoing Nigerian Army exercise.
A statement issued by the spokesman of NAF, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, said the deployment was done in line with its commitment to entrench national peace and security.
“The essence of the deployment is to provide the necessary air cover to the ground troops to enhance overall operational cohesion and efficiency,” he added.
He recalled that Operation Python Dance II began officially on September 15 and was planned to cover the entire South-east, adding that the wide expanse of the exercise area and the request by the army for close air support had made the involvement of NAF inevitable.
“Exercise Operation Python Dance II is aimed at combatting the security challenges in the Southeastern part of the country. The deployment of the air assets in support of the Nigerian Army is thus in fulfillment of one of the constitutional mandates of the NAF,” he said.
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