Ohanaeze, the apex Igbo socio-political organisation, says the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is not a terrorist organisation.
On Friday, the defence headquarters (DHQ) declared IPOB a “militant terrorist” organisation. It claimed the group at different times attacked soldiers with sticks and stones in Abia state.
A few hours after the declaration, south-east governors proscribed IPOB.
But in a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting in Enugu on Saturday and signed by John Nwodo, Ohanaeze said there were legal processes used to determine if a group is a terrorist organisation or not.
It also asked the army to immediately terminate its siege on the south-east.
“That the decision of the Nigeria army to commence Operation Python Dance in the south-east at this point in time is regrettable and called for immediate termination of the exercise. The military option is never the solution to problem of nation building. We refer for instance to goings on in Spain, Scotland and other parts of the world to reaffirm that only through dialogue can the national question be resolved. Consequently we condemned all acts of violence in pursuance to freedom of expression,” the nine-point communiqué read.
“That Imeobi resolved that IPOB is not a terrorist organisation. There are processes under extant national and international laws, especially the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, as Amended in 2015 to determine whether a group is or not a terrorist organisation.”
Ohanaeze said the continued policy of marginalisation of the south-east was the basic cause of the renewed agitation by the separatist group.
It described the loss of lives during the military intervention as “unfortunate and deplorable”, adding that “it is the sole responsibility of the police in every democracy to maintain law and order and protection of lives and property of its citizens”.
“A united Nigeria under a restructured federal system of government that guarantees justice, equity and farness is the best system for this country,” it said.
“Accordingly, Ohanaeze is mandated to organise a special summit soonest of Igbo nation in support of the restructuring agenda.”
The designation of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the DHQ implies that the group’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu can be killed. Though the declaration is not backed by law.