Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the legal process for the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Last Friday, the defence headquarters declared IPOB a “militant terrorist” organisation. South-east governors followed suit, proscribing the group.
But the action of the military and the governors has come under severe criticism. Senate President Bukola Saraki described it as unconstitutional, saying the senate would launch an investigation into the matter.
Speaking with state house correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday, Mohammed disclosed that the legal process for the proscription of IPOB had begun.
He explained that the procedure for proscription was that “the president must sign the proclamation after which the attorney-general will follow the procedure which he is doing”.
“For those who are fixated with legality, I have good news for them: President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the process of proscribing IPOB, and the procedure is on as I speak,” he said.
The minister said he stood by his statement that the group was being sponsored by a “coalition of the politically-disgruntled and the treasury looters”.
He also said IPOB was externalising its campaign by writing to foreign governments and parliaments, alleging genocide against the Igbo in Nigeria.
“IPOB has decided to externalise its campaign. It has written to governments and parliaments in the West alleging genocide in the south-east. Even a dictionary definition of ‘genocide’ does not support that claim. IPOB has also engaged in using highly-emotive videos of killings, which it harvested from other lands and were doctored to hoodwink the international community,” he said.
Mohammed said the government had established that IPOB received money from Nigerians in diaspora and from foreign countries. He also alleged that the financial headquarters of the group was in France.
“We have the records, we know IPOB collects money from many people from diaspora; they collect money from many people in Nigeria, they collect money from some foreign countries, this is clear,” he said.
“Let me tell you, the financial headquarters is in France, we know, but you see, can you as a government stop sending money to your parents? You have to block the sources of finance, that is what I said recently.”
Mohammed said the government had approached the UK government to shut down the Radio Biafra, but that the attempt had been unsuccessful because it (UK) saw the group as exercising its freedom of expression.
However, he added that the government would not rest until IPOB was stopped.
“It is incontrovertible that some people in diaspora contribute money to IPOB, where does he (Nnamdi Kanu) get his money from? We know this as a fact. Again there are a few very knotty diplomatic issues which you need to skip, for instance, who does not know that the IPOB internal radio is located in London? We know the diplomatic moves we have been taking and approaching the UK… all the damages it has done…. But they don’t see it that way, for them it’s about freedom of expression,” he said.
“If we have a person in Nigeria openly soliciting arms to come and fight the UK, what would you think of, would you consider that freedom of expression? And this is a country that also has had a history, what did IRA do to be labelled a terrorist organisation? They were planting bombs, they were fighting the British army. I don’t want any diplomatic row, we know for a fact where the funding is coming from and we are going to stop them, but it is difficult to stop them. We have been working on it and we will not stop.”