By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
The Federal Government has asked the United Kingdom (UK) government to confiscate the assets of the proscibed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), shut down their communication channels and ban the issuance of visas to the group’s sponsors.
A statement issued on Friday by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Nigeria welcomed UK’s decision to proscribe IPOB as a terrorist group.
According to him, the violent secessionist organisation has long been proscribed as such in Nigeria where it carries out the majority of its murderous activities.
“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; and 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.
“Such sanctions have 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. Through their international network of radio and TV stations, they threaten further violence if their demands are 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,” Shehu said.
The presidential aide added that the free and democratic world must act now to stomp the terror group out before any more misery is caused.