The Buhari administration has demanded that the UK government seize the assets of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its members in the UK, as well as shut down the group’s communication department, Radio Biafra.
Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, stated this position in an Abuja statement on Friday, while welcoming reports that the UK had designated IPOB as a terrorist organization.
Despite vowing to deny its members asylum or other types of assistance, Downing Street has reversed its position on IPOB in the face of significant criticism, denying that it has labeled the separatist group terrorists.
Shehu urged the UK authorities to follow up on the alleged proscription by seizing IPOB members’ assets, shutting down their communication channels, and prohibiting visas from being issued to those funding IPOB in Nigeria.
The statement read in part: “It has taken our allies in the U.K. so long to follow suit owing to two reasons:
“First, the deep pockets of IPOB’s international network of funders that allow for lawyers and influence peddlers to aggressively lobby for and whitewash the activities of their client in Western courts.
“Second, IPOB’s influential communication network of TV and radio stations – including London-based Radio Biafra – employed with great effect to spread misinformation abroad and incite violence at home.
“The next steps are clear: now that IPOB has rightly been designated a terrorist group, the UK authorities should, in our view, follow up with confiscation of their assets, shut down their communication channels and sanction the issuance of visas to IPOB’s funders in Nigeria.”
According to the statement, such measures were crucial in combating other terror organisations.
“And make no mistake: today Africa is a breeding ground for terror, with local and international groups alike gaining strength across the continent, thriving on the economic devastation of the pandemic.
“Nigeria’s intelligence and security forces are the first lines of defence against such groups, including ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliated Boko Haram. We rely on our allies in the West for their support.
“IPOB’s – and its 50,000 strong paramilitary unit’s – reign of terror has seen villages butchered, school buses set alight and politicians’ homes bombed,” the statement noted.
It went on to say that they promised more violence if their demands were not satisfied, while stirring violence and religious and ethnic tensions between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim communities through their international network of radio and television stations.
“Their mouthpieces and their wallets are their most effective tools – it is these assets Nigeria’s allies must target next. And there is no time for complacency.
“We thank the U.K. for its decisive action and call on our friends in the U.S. to at last heed our calls and follow suit in designating this murderous terror group as what it is.
“Across Africa, increasingly what were once small localised groups are growing in size and influence and becoming connected to global networks of terror.
“The free and democratic world must act now to stomp them out before any more misery is caused,” the statement reads.