Tough times await the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) as the Federal Government has threatened to block the group’s sources of funding.
The government said on Tuesday that it has discovered the sources of IPOB’s funding and the countries supporting the Biafra agitators.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the revelation when he appeared on a live programme “Good Morning Nigeria” on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).
Mohammed said: “Terrorists do not publish where their funding is coming from. But we know the countries that are supporting the IPOB. We know the sources of their funding though I am not at liberty to disclose them here.
“We are taking steps to block them and we are also taking a lot of diplomatic actions in respect of the countries that are supporting them,” he said.
Mohammed spoke as Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, said that he would not heed the calls from some quarters to dethrone Eze Israel Kanu, the traditional ruler of Afara Ukwu Ibeku in Umuahia community and father of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu because of the group’s face-off with the Federal Government.
Ikpeazu, who met behind closed doors with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa yesterday over the IPOB/Army crisis, explained that he would not hold Eze Kanu responsible for the sins of his son.
He said: “I clearly separate Kanu from his father. The processes of handling traditional institutions are enshrined in the laws of our land and traditional rulers who are members of our constituency will do the needful at the appropriate time.
“But for me, I think there is a clear division between Nnamdi Kanu and his father”, Ikpeazu told State House correspondents as he emerged from the meeting with Osinbajo.
Mohammed on the other hand, said that most of the countries supporting IPOB were doing so based on ignorance.
He said that they had been hoodwinked to believing that “Nigeria is a country where Muslims persecute Christians and a country where there is genocide.
“As we speak today (yesterday), IPOB has written letters to many governments outside Nigeria, international parliaments, sending fake and cloned videos claiming there is genocide in Nigeria,” the minister stated.
Mohammed appealed to the international community not to adopt double standard in dealing with IPOB and to be more diligent before making any pronouncements, adding that what the countries would never accept in their territories should not be condoned or encouraged in Nigeria.
The minister justified the military’s declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group as well as its proscription by the South East governors.
According to him, “there are lots of arguments regarding the constitutionality of the action of the military and the South East governors. People must realise that we are dealing with the issue of national security and I
do not think that the military and the governors should fold their arms while the country is set ablaze.
“I have heard a lot of comments as to whether the military has the right to declare IPOB a terrorist group. What the military did is to catalogue all the activities of IPOB, which are not different from that of terrorist groups,” he said.
Mohammed said IPOB set up a para-military organisation, a parallel military group, Biafra Secret Service and Biafra National Guard.
He said the group was attacking army installations and soldiers at checkpoints, and as well extorting money from innocent people.
“IPOB activities are not jokes. If there have not been the proactive actions on the part of the military and the South East governors, there would have been retaliations from other regions and the entire country would have been set ablaze,” he said.
The minister reiterated his earlier position that IPOB was being sponsored by disgruntled politicians and treasury looters to discredit President Muhammad Buhari’s administration.
On his mission to Aso Rock, Ikpeazu said that “naturally, I’m heading a sub-national government and when this kind of thing happens, which would have had dimension of national proportion, it is right that you will come and brief the Commander-in-Chief or his Vice, and that is exactly what I have come to do.”
Speaking further on the situation which led to loss of lives as soldiers clashed with IPOB members and ethnic tension heightened across the county, Ikpeazu stated that he was determined to protect lives rather than allow the state to burn.
According to him, “I swore with the Bible to protect life and property and because I take such things seriously, I will continue to protect the lives and property of my brothers and sisters irrespective of where they come from.
“You know that the mainstay of our economy in Abia State is trade and commerce and I do not think it will augur well for our economy if we make our kitchen the theatre of Biafra.
“A native wisdom in my place says you shouldn’t allow fight to ensue from your mother’s kitchen. It is my responsibility also to grow prosperity from my state.”
He stressed that he would not encourage moves that could mortgage the wellbeing of about 11.6 million Igbos living outside the South East and then box them into a smaller corner of the country.
Ikpeazu further argued that in as much as dissatisfaction with the status quo exists, it would not be wise for one to allow a fire of that nature to engulf his mother’s kitchen.
He also pointed out that he had gotten the assurances of his colleagues in Northern States of the safety of Igbos in that region.