Nigeria: Separatist IPOB is ‘militant terrorist' group
Nigeria on Friday declared the Igbo secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) a "militant terrorist organization," following days of unrest and clashes between its members and troops in southeastern Abia state.
"The Armed Forces of Nigeria wishes to confirm to the general public that IPOB from all intent, plans, and purpose as analyzed, is a militant terrorist organization," defense spokesman John Enenche said in a statement.
"Parents and particularly unsuspecting residents of the South East and other Nigerians should advise their wards to desist from joining the group," the statement added, possibly setting the ground for an all-out assault on its members and associates.
The army criticized claims that IPOB is a nonviolent group, saying that it operates a secret security service and national guard and has repeatedly launched violent attacks on security operatives.
It also accused IPOB of blocking public roads and demanding illegal tolls, militant possession and use of weapons (including Molotov cocktails and machetes), and physical confrontation of troops by its chief Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB members at a checkpoint on Sept. 11.
The statement also alleged an attack by IPOB members on a military checkpoint on Sept. 12 when one IPOB member tried to take a female soldier's rifle.
-GOVERNORS BAN GROUP
Later Friday evening, the Igbo secessionist group was legally banned in Nigeria's southeast by governors across the troubled region, also restating their commitment to the country's unity.
"All activities of IPOB are hereby proscribed," according to a communique issued after a meeting of the governors.
"All Governors of the South East Zone are to ensure compliance in their respective states. South East Governors Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo, and National Assembly members do hereby reinforce their commitment to a united and indivisible Nigeria," the communique added.
The IPOB, led by Nnamdi Kanu, who is standing trial for treason, has yet to respond to the legal ban.
Tensions are running high in Nigeria's southeast following clashes between the separatists and government troops. On Friday, the government extended the curfew in the commercial hub of Aba and postponed school resuming until Sept. 25.
Local media reported that Igbo traders in northern towns are keeping a low profile to ward off possible reprisals after unverified footage emerged of IPOB allegedly attacking northerners and a mosque in the region.
Most mosques across the northern region used Friday sermons to call on residents to shun violence of any kind.