Opinion: IPOB agitations; between activism and terrorism

Opinion: IPOB agitations; between activism and terrorism

Editor’s note: Mixed reactions have continued to greet Nigerian army’s declaration of IPOB as a terrorist group. While many people see it as a welcome development, other describe it as unconstitutional.

In an article sent to Legit.ng, Rahaman Onike, an author and policy analyst, writes about the activities of IPOB and why the army was right to have declared the group a terrorist group.

Onike writes from Oyo state College of Agriculture & Technology, Igboora, Oyo state.

Until the recent declaration by the Nigeria's military that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a terrorist group, members have been operating with impunity particularly in the southeastern part of the country.

Before the skirmish and eventually onslaught against IPOB members by the Nigerian army, the general impression created by Nnamdi Kanu's boys was that they can over-run the country within a twinkle of an eye.

If not for the excesses and display of anarchistic principles by IPOB, the Nigerian army wouldn't have started military campaign in the region. One other thing that prompted the Operation Python Dances II is the recalcitrant nature of Kanu's group.

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Given the secessionist objectives, hate speeches and inciting videos of Nnamdi Kanu in the last three months, it will be a great disservice to the nation for President Muhammed Buhari to keep mute over the group’s assault against our collective psyche as a people. If he had heeded the warning early enough, the decision to launch military campaign in the region wouldn't have arisen.

Even if he had meant well for his people when he started the activism, the inherently random use of propaganda and fire arms has turned the harrow-head of the struggle to a villain instead of a hero. Whoever is the group’s advisor and strategist had done a sort of collateral damage to the struggle with the militarism and excesses of the group.

Worse still, the proscription of IPOB by the southeast governors and Ohanaeze is a big blow to the survival of the group and its members now and in the future. Expectedly, the Kanu's group had not only been disowned but with the disclaimer by the leadership of the region, the members had obviously become endangered.

I am therefore not surprised that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the emergency of the terror group as a consequence of failure of Igbo leaders to provide proper leadership for the region.

On whether President Muhammed Buhari was right or wrong to have declared military action depends on the angle from where one looks at the issue.

In my own view, President Buhari owes the nation the responsibility of defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity at all times. Obviously, the actions and utterances of Kanu and his cohorts are not only capable of undermining the Nigeria's sovereignty, it can equally put its territorial integrity into total jeopardy.

Given the frequent and widespread reports of wanton destruction of properties, maiming and killings, kidnapping and secessionist activities of Kanu's group in the southeast, the military might be right for tagging IPOB a terrorist group.The activities of the group is treasonable and has reached a stage where it can no longer be tolerated.

The degrading conduct of IPOB is now attracting international attention. IPOB qualifies to be called a terrorist group for its felonious pursuits and lawlessness. IPOB is not different from Boko Haram given the fact that it has adopted its flag, raised military and declared independent states within the federation.

If Boko Haram is regarded as terrorist group for arms struggle, assassinations, kidnapping and contesting the nation's sovereignty the same description suits IPOB. Both groups are best be described as enemy of the state for their persistent attacks on Nigeria's sovereignty. It is therefore not an aberration or affront against the natural order for the military to opt for the option of counter terrorism.

Again, the diplomatic row spurred by the romances between IPOB and AbdulKadir Erkahraman, a Turkish citizen has given the entire narrative a necessary international dimension. Until the recent disclaimer by Turkish Embassy, the insinuation that the Turkish government was drumming support for Biafra agitation and were behind the accusation of genocide against President Buhari was very popular particularly on social media and new media.

Whoever has read the book titled 'Terrorism' by Walter Laqueur and 'The ultimate 'Terrorists by Jessica Stern would agree with the Defence Headquarters that sociologically, psychologically and legally, the activities of IPOB qualifies it to be described as a terrorist group.

In the circumstance where Nnamdi Kanu keeps on threatening and inciting his militias to burn the country if he is re-arrested, government is justified to have endorsed operation python dances.

Similar operations had been launched and prosecuted in other parts of the country in the past where corporate existence of the nation was earlier being threatened.

The argument that army's presence around Afara Ukwa, the ancestral home of Nnadi Kanu amounts to act of provocation is utter nonsense.

With the manner of retreat and how Kanu hibernated since the military campaign in his home town began, the inward and outward cowardliness of this so called Biafran agitator is glaringly exposed. He would have waited to match the Nigerian army with equal force as a proof of his preparedness for secession from the federation.

From the facts available, the victimhood rhetoric and propaganda that President Buhari is trying to wage a genocidal war against Igbo is baseless and unfounded. Apparently, the propaganda has failed. The retreat by Kanu's group is a triumph of the federal might over ethnic militarism and chauvinism.

Of significant note is solidarity parade across Kano streets by the northern youth in response to provocation by the IPOB. This has really prevented the possibility of reprisal attack against the Igbos living in the North following the activities of ethnic jingoists in Abia, the country home of Nnamdi Kanu.

What this implies is that the Northern youths are seen to be more committed to national integration and cohesion in the present circumstance.

The call by the southeaster governors for the withdrawal of federal troop from the region however sounds plausible but the timing depends on how soon peace is restored to the region.

Above all, the specific lessons in the entire development need special highlights. The first is that there is discontent and disaffection in the land due to lop-sidedness of the Nigeria's federal structure.

Irrespective of the name tag, the fact skill remains that there is the need for national dialogue to address some unanswered national questions. Whether this is to be called restructuring or borrowing Prof. Wole Soyinka's word-reconfiguration - it is an incontrovertible fact that Nigerian are not one in spirit, thoughts, belief system and culture.

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If the country must remain indissoluble and indivisible entity, strong and united nation, the government should create opportunities and enabling environment for the aggrieved groups to come up with their demands and grounds for agitation for the country to experience a lasting peace.

Another important lesson is that social crusaders and activists should learn not to over-estimate their strength.Besides, all of us need to realise that it is always calamitous to start a war one cannot win. From all indications, IPOB is already being defeated by men of operation Python dances.

What this portends is that by October 2017 next adjournment of Kanu's court case, he would see the full wrath of law in case he fails to appear in court for proper prosecution of his case.

I am sure, the man would be both hypertensive and in serious dilemma as the next date of his case adjournment is drawing near wherever the place of his hibernation. Moreso, he has run foul of virtually all his bail conditions in speeches and action.Predictably, the bail bond will be reviewed to advantage of the nation's security system thereby putting the man in shackle until he is considered remorseful.

Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai revealed that the Defence Headquarters did not declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a terrorist organisation in Nigeria.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.

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