Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, said that the Defence Headquarters did not actually declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a terrorist organization.
His statement contradicts Friday’s declaration of IPOB as “a militant terrorist organization” by the Defence Headquarters. The announcement came following the clash between the members of IPOB and soldiers in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State. The soldiers were allegedly on a show of force procession following the launch of Operation Python Dance II in South-East Nigeria.
“From the foregoing, the Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to confirm to the general public that IPOB from all intent, plan and purpose as analysed, is a militant terrorist organisation. Therefore, parents and particularly unsuspecting residents of the South East and other Nigerians should advice their wards to desist from joining the group,” the Defence Headquarters stated.
The South-East Governors Forum, led by the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, had also proscribed the activities of the group in the region.
Both declarations by the Nigerian Defence Headquarters and the South-East Governors had been criticized by Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. The Senate President noted that the Nigerian Armed Forces has no powers to make such declaration.
However, according to Buratai, what the Defence Headquarters did was a pronouncement towards protecting the lives and properties on Nigerians and not a declaration.
“You have to get it very clear. First of all, what the Defence Headquarters did was to make pronouncement. It wasn’t a declaration per se. But this has given room for the right step to be taken. I think the government is doing the right thing. He said
“It is not that we are overstepping our bounds. We are still within the limits. And I ensure you that what the military said was to set the ball rolling and to bring the awareness to the public that this is what this organisation is all about.” He added
He further stated that the federal government was following legal process to get court backing for the declaration.
“I’m happy that the government has done the right thing right now,” he said.