The Presidency has welcomed the decision of the United Kingdom to acknowledge the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said this in a statement issued Friday night.
He said the next steps for UK authorities after IPOB had “rightly” been designated a terrorist group included the confiscation of their assets, shutting down of communication channels and sanction the issuance of visas to IPOB’s funders in Nigeria.
The presidential spokesman in the statement titled “Thank You, UK on IPOB, Now the Next Steps” said such sanctions had played a critical role in combatting other terror groups.
“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. The free and democratic world must act now to stomp them out before any more misery is caused.”
On why it took the UK government longer period to proscribe the group, the Presidency explained that “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.”