The Presidency has welcomed the decision by the United Kingdom to proscribe the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, made this position known in a statement on Friday in Abuja.
According to the media aide, the violent secessionist organisation has long been proscribed as such in Nigeria where it carries out the majority of its murderous activities.
Shehu urged the UK authorities to follow up the proscription with confiscation of assets of IPOB members, shut down their communication channels and sanction the issuance of visas to those funding IPOB in Nigeria.
The statement read in part: “It has taken our allies in the U.K. so long to follow suit owing to two reasons:
“First, the deep pockets of IPOB’s international network of funders that allow for lawyers and influence peddlers to aggressively lobby for and whitewash the activities of their client in Western courts
“Second, IPOB’s influential communication network of TV and radio stations – including London-based Radio Biafra – employed with great effect to spread misinformation abroad and incite violence at home.
“The next steps are clear: now that IPOB has rightly been designated a terrorist group, the UK authorities should, in our view, follow up with confiscation of their assets, shut down their communication channels and sanction the issuance of visas to IPOB’s funders in Nigeria.”
The statement said such sanctions had played a critical role in combatting other terror groups.
“And make no mistake: today Africa is a breeding ground for terror, with local and international groups alike gaining strength across the continent, thriving on the economic devastation of the pandemic.
“Nigeria’s intelligence and security forces are the first lines of defence against such groups, including ISIS and Al Quaeda affiliated Boko Haram. We rely on our allies in the West for their support.
“IPOB’s – and its 50,000 strong paramilitary unit’s – reign of terror has seen villages butchered, school buses set alight and politicians’ homes bombed,” the statement noted.
It added that through their international network of radio and TV stations, they threatened further violence if their demands were not met, while inciting violence and religious and ethnic tension between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim populations.
“Their mouthpieces and their wallets are their most effective tools – it is these assets Nigeria’s allies must target next. And there is no time for complacency.
“We thank the U.K. for its decisive action and call on our friends in the U.S. to at last heed our calls and follow suit in designating this murderous terror group as what it is.
“Across Africa, increasingly what were once small localised groups are growing in size and influence and becoming connected to global networks of terror.
“The free and democratic world must act now to stomp them out before any more misery is caused,” said the statement.