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Saturday, October 14, 2017

IPOB: Lai Mohammed writes, begs international community

“If they fail to give us Biafra, Somalia will look like a paradise compared to what will happen to that ‘zoo’ (Nigeria).” These are the words of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the so-called Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

On September 20, the Federal Government of Nigeria proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organization. I, as minister of Information and Culture and the spokesman of the government, call on our international partners to do the same.

Whilst there is no internationally agreed definition of terrorism, many nations’ characterizations closely correlate. Basic to all of them is this: the calculated threat or use of violence to further a political, religious or ideological cause.

Back to Nnamdi Kanu: “I don’t want peaceful actualization (of Biafra)”; “We need guns and we need bullets”; “If they don’t (give us Biafra), they will die.” Public announcement like these puts IPOB’s designation beyond doubt in most jurisdictions: they are a terrorist organization, as ETA was in Spain, the Tamil Tigers was in Sri Lanka, and the PKK is in Turkey (all of whom are proscribed by the U.S. State Department).

But it is not for the sake of a label we level this appeal. Currently, streams of cash come from across the globe to swell the organization’s stockpile of weapons. Yet funding of terrorism is illegal in international law. Only with the group’s correct categorization will our international partners be able to halt the financing — and with it, IPOB’s future.

The threat posed by the organization may be low. IPOB commands little grass-root support in the South East (the region it calls Biafra). All South-East governors have collectively condemned IPOB’s calls for secession. And local traditional and religious leaders have weighed into the debate, restating that absolute integrity of Nigeria. Violence, much less terrorism, never solves grievance. And for that reason, the overwhelming majority of residents in the South-East reject IPOB. They know the ballot box offers the best mechanism for redress.

*Lai Mohammed, is Minister of Information, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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