- Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, says the activities of IPOB are similar to that of Boko Haram terrorists
- He warns that any group that operates like IPOB will also be tagged as terrorists by the government
- Shehu accuses the pro-Biafra group of printing Biafran currency; issuing Biafran passports and extorting money from people
Following the federal government’s proscription and designation of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation, the presidency has stated that other secessionist groups in the country that operate like IPOB would also be tagged as terrorist organisations.
The presidency also said the government was able to quickly identify the source of IPOB’s funding but had failed to trace that of Boko Haram because the method used by the pro-Biafra group to source for funds was open.
This was made known by the senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, when he featured on Channels TV programme titled, Sunrise Daily on Thursday, September 21.
The presidential aide however, exempted groups like the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) from proscription on the basis that they were not as violent and unruly as IPOB.
The presidential spokesperson said some activities of IPOB that are similar to that of Boko Haram terrorists included, declaring an independent state and hoisting a foreign flag on Nigerian soil, The Punch reports.
He accused the secessionist group of printing Biafran currency; issuing Biafran passports and extorting money from people under the guise of compulsory tax collection.
He warned that any group that operates like IPOB will be proscribed by the government.
“If another group comes up and produces passports and produces currency and sets up an intelligence agency and a para-military organisation of sorts, the law will apply to them as it did to IPOB,” he said.
When asked why the Arewa youths, who issued a quit notice to Igbo were not given the IPOB similar treatment, Shehu said the youths were spared such because they had withdrawn their threat and had succumbed to the voice of reason.
The presidential spokesperson dismissed claims that the federal government was treating the herdsmen crisis with lack of seriousness.
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He said: “There is a criminal activity and terrorist activity. Yes, the Fulani herdsmen are a criminal gang and they are being dealt with in accordance with the law but IPOB, like Boko Haram, has carved out a territory as a sovereign state and they have raised concerns in Kogi and Benue and have boasted that they will take over Bayelsa and Rivers.
“That was exactly what Boko Haram did and the taxation system and hoisting of flags. This is not acceptable.”
Shehu also disclosed that the government was able to quickly identify the source of IPOB’s funding because the group canvasses for funds openly.
He said: “Funding is canvassed for IPOB openly in some Western countries and traders of Nigerian origin in these countries send money back home. Why is the government not able to identify the source of funding for Boko Haram?
“It is perhaps more complicating than we are seeing and if you look at the President’s message at the United Nations, he asked for the funding of Boko Haram be traced and blocked.”
Meanwhile, MASSOB has attacked Garba Shehu, for declining to refer to Fulani herdsmen as terrorists.
The group, reacting to statement credited to Garba Shehu, that Fulani herdsmen have not been proscribed by the government because they are not terrorists, accused the federal government of complicity in herdsmen attacks.
Leader of the group, Uchenna Madu, said the statement by the presidential aide was evidence that herdsmen attacking parts of the country are being sponsored by the government in power, the Sun reports.
In the video below, NAIJ.com TV asked some Nigerians if they want the military operation in the southeast to be canceled.