The Federal Government says the reported decision of the United Kingdom to grant asylum to “persecuted” members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also said that the decision amounted to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security. Fielding questions from Newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja, Mohammed said the decision is unacceptable to Nigeria. “Let me say straight away that this issue is within the purview of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and I am sure he will handle it appropriately. “But as the spokesman for the Federal Government of Nigeria, I will say that if indeed the report that the UK will grant asylum to supposedly persecuted IPOB and MASSOB members is true, then something is wrong somewhere. “Against the background of the fact that IPOB is not only proscribed but also designated as a terrorist organisation here in Nigeria, the UK’s decision is disrespectful of Nigeria as a nation. “The decision amounts to sabotaging the fight against terrorism and generally undermining Nigeria’s security. “It is not only unconscionable, but it is also inexplicable,’’ he said. The minister said that there had recently been heightened attacks against security agencies in the South East Zone. He said IPOB had been fingered as being behind the attacks in spite of its denials. “For the UK to choose this time to give succour to IPOB beggars belief and calls to question the UK’s real intention.
“If we could go down the memory lane, what the UK has done is like Nigeria offering asylum to members of the IRA before the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement,’’ he said. NAN reports that the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) had released new guidelines to its decision-makers on how to consider and grant asylum applications by members of Biafran secessionist groups. In the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to “persecuted” members IPOB, a group that Nigeria had designated as a terrorist organisation.
Also in the guidelines, asylum is to be granted to the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra . (PM News)
Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has condemned the incessant criminal terrorism and security detoriation in Igbo land.
A statement by MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu said alleged that “acts of criminal terrorism by the so called unknown gunmen being perpetrated in our land against government facilities, security agents and some prominent individuals are being sponsored by enemies of Ndigbo.
MASSOB condemned the terrorist attack against Chukwuma Soludo at Isuofia; “we equally condemn the unwarranted killings of Ebonyi state indigenous citizens by Fulani terrorist heardsmen. MASSOB condemn in totality, the breaking of Owerri prison by the so called unknown gunmen.
“Through MASSOB intelligence Agency, we found out that all these attacks are being sponsored and executed by federal government of Nigeria through their protected militiamen called bandits and unknown gunmen.
“Their primary aim is to discredit non violence pro Biafra freedom fighters like MASSOB and IPOB. They want to create an erroneous impression that pro Biafra agitators have turned violent and militant.
“How can untrained and amatures with no military training overpower the entire security apparatus of Nigeria in South East? Why is it that there was no security resistance during the breaking up of owerri prisons and Imo State police headquarters in an operation that lasted more than one hour.
“Nigeria military cantonment, Obinze Owerri is seven minutes drive to the scenes of the crime, Imo State MOPOL base is three minutes drive to the scenes of the crime but no resistance from security agencies.
“The terrorist attacks in Owerri are part of the ongoing destructive measures by the President Muhamadu Buhari led administration to discredit and blackmail the pro Biafra organizations to create an erroneous impression that Biafrans are waging war against Nigeria. Igbo land is the most peaceful and unterrorised region.
“MASSOB advises Governor Hope Uzodinma to stop heaping blames on IPOB or ESN or any other pro Biafra organization. Pro Biafra agitators are not responsible for all the terrorist activities in Igbo land. President Muhamadu Buhari and his Fulani cabals are responsible. The fulani commissioners of police and military chiefs in Igbo land are partners in these terrorist activities in Biafra land.
“They will never stop until they achieve their desired aim. More destructive attacks will still come unless Southeast governors and other political, traditional and opinion leaders of Igbo land quickly convene a security meeting where critical stakeholders will put a a lasting strategy that will stop these devastative implosion coming to Biafra land.
“The federal government is plotting to militralised the entire Biafra land in disguise of searching for pro Biafra agitators. They are planning to intimidate and inflict fear on our people to frustrate Ndigbo from clamouring for 2023 presidency.”
The Federal Government has described the reported formation of Biafra Customary Government by Asari Dokubo as a “theatre of the absurd by a joker seeking attention’’.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria on the development in Lagos on Monday, the Minister of Information, and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the President, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)’s regime will not be distracted by the absurdity.
“I am sure you have heard of the theatre of the absurd, that is the best way I can describe it.
“If Asari Dokubo wants to form and run a fathom government, I think he is free to do so.
“This administration will not be distracted because we still have a lot to do.
“We are not ready to give any attention or time to a joker like Dokubo who is just looking for attention.
“We will just take it as one of these entertainment things.
“The beauty about Nigeria is that it is never a dull country, you must have one thing or the other to entertain you,’’ he said.
Dokubo, leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Salvation Force reportedly announced himself as the leader of the new Biafra Customary Government.
The fathom government was announced with names of some leaders by one Uche Mefor, who claimed to be its head of information and communications. (Text, excluding headline, courtesy The PUNCH)
■ Asks government to go after bandits terrorising the country first
Following his alleged attempted arrest by Men of the Department of State Security(DSS), on Friday, the Yoruba acclaimed freedom fighter, Chief Sunday Igboho, has said that he was not afraid of arrest or running from anybody, but could only be arrested after the government must have arrested the bandits terrorising the country.
He spoke in reaction to the alleged attack on him, while on his way for a scheduled meeting at an undisclosed place.
Igboho, who was allegedly attacked at Guru Maraj’s area in Ibadan, said: “I am not running from anybody. Nobody can intimidate me. I have returned to my house in Ibadan.”
“I can only subject myself to arrest after the government must have arrested the bandits terrorising the country. The government should go after those bandits first.”
He lamented that he was disappointed that he was attacked without committing any offence by men of DSS who on the instruction of unknown authorities, attempted to prevent him to move around in Ibadan and beyond.
He said, despite their effrontery to stop him, he had managed to have his way to point of his scheduled meeting. (Vanguard)
Yinka Odumakin, National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, on Thursday, February 18, slammed the Federal Government and some governors stating they are complicit in the increased attacks by terrorists across the country.
Odumakin made this assertion during a media interview, revealing that some government officials are supporting banditry in Nigeria; because they are beneficiaries of the criminal activities of the marauders.
The Afenifere spokesman issued this statement in response to the abductions of some students and staff of Government Science College, Kagara, in Niger State.
The victims were kidnapped when bandits stormed the school on Wednesday morning. A student was also reportedly killed by the bandits during the attack.
Reacting, Odumakin said those in government owe Nigerians a lot of explanations.
He said, “It was the late Sani Abacha who said that if the kind of things we are going through continues in the country for more than 48 hours, the executives in the land have questions to answer. At this point, we should be asking our executives in Nigeria; ‘What is going on?’
“They cannot pretend they don’t know what is going on. The way the spokesmen of this regime defend these bandits; the way some governors openly defend them shows clearly that there are people in authority who are aware of the pains; that the country is going through at the moment; and who for one reason or the other are encouraging it as their benefactors and beneficiaries.
“They are encouraging them for selfish reasons which are not in the interests of the country because for one reason or the other; they are benefitting from what they are doing.
“Don’t forget that in 2016, (Nasir) El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State told the nation that he went out of this country; to go and pay money to foreign Fulani who are coming to kill his people.
“The governor of Bauchi has been defending the right to gunmen carrying AK-47; saying they are using it to defend themselves. When you put all these together, we can no longer pretend that people in government know what is going on.”
When asked whether he nursed any fears that the South-West was the next for the kidnapping of mass magnitude; the Afenifere chieftain said, “Already, the bandits are all over the country.”
• CBN places ‘post no debit’ restriction on pharmacist’s account
• Lawyer accuses Nigeria Immigration Service of stopping her trip abroad
• Federal Government’s panel gets 160 petitions, begins sitting today
By Eniola Akinkuotu and Adelani Adepegba
There were strong indications on Tuesday that the Federal Government had begun a clampdown on promoters of #EndSARS protests by freezing their bank accounts.
Some #EndSARS promoters, who spoke separately to The PUNCH, said their banks informed them that the Central Bank of Nigeria had directed that their accounts should be frozen.
Last months, youths calling for the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police protested for two weeks in major cities of the country.
On Tuesday, some promoters of the protests said their accounts had been frozen for the past two weeks.
The CBN, according to multiple complaints received by The PUNCH, reportedly instructed banks to place a ‘Post No Debit’ restriction on the accounts.
The banks, it was learnt, were able to implement the directive by tracking the ‘narration’ of transactions.
Bank transactions that included the narration #EndSARS or End SARS were immediately flagged while such accounts receiving funds were frozen.
Speaking to The PUNCH, a pharmacist, Bassey Israel, who was in charge of the #EndSARS medical team in Port Harcourt, said his account with Access Bank marked 003397XXXX had remained frozen since October 15.
According to him, when he learnt of the development, he went to the bank to find out the reason for it. Israel said he was informed by a bank officer that the directive came from the apex bank.
He said, “I am in charge of End SARS medical team in Port Harcourt and we had people donating for medical supplies, food, water, ambulance services and these donations were made directly into my account and of course these donations had End SARS descriptions so I think that was how they were able to flag my account. I noticed that on October 15, I was trying to make a debit transaction on my account and noticed that there was a restriction.
“So, I called the bank and I was told that there was indeed a restriction but I should go to any branch near me and when I did so, the branch manager sent a mail to the branch where I opened the account. The response to the mail was that there was a directive from the CBN to restrict the account.
“The lady was surprised and even asked me if I had any issue with the CBN and I responded that if I had any issue with the CBN, I wouldn’t be in the bank in the first place, I would be on the run. I asked what could be done and she gave me no answer. She had to show me the mail on her computer which I read. It was directly from the CBN and it read, ‘Place this account on PND.”
When asked if others had similar problems, Israel said, “I know many persons that have this same challenge.”
Israel said the money in the frozen account was a substantial sum.
Another #EndSARS protester told one of our correspondents that she had not been able to access her account and had been informed that it was frozen.
She, however, wished to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised by the government.
One of the promoters of the #EndSARS movement, Feyikemi Abudu, also confirmed in a tweet that the accounts of several persons involved in the protests had been frozen.
The acting Spokesman for the CBN, Abdulmumin Isa, who was first contacted last week on the telephone, asked the correspondent to give him some time.
However, after one week of waiting, Isa had yet to provide any information on the matter.
The Spokesman for Access Bank, Abdul Imoyo, said he could not make comments on individual accounts of customers for confidentiality reasons.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Immigration Service on Monday prevented a promoter of the #EndSARS movement, Modupe Odele, from travelling.
Although the NIS officers did not disclose the reason for their action, it is believed that the action was taken because of her alleged role in the #EndSARS protests.
Odele, had through her Twitter handle, @Mochievous, mobilised her 219,000 followers during the protests.
She had also ensured that free legal aid was given to persons who were unjustly arrested during the demonstrations.
Confirming the development in a newsletter sent out on Monday, the lawyer said she was on her way to the Maldives to celebrate her birthday when she was accosted by immigration officers.
She wrote, “For my birthday, I had planned a trip to the Maldives. It was really for a break as the events of the last three weeks have exhausted my mind and body in a way I have never been exhausted in my life.
“I went to the airport, passed through immigration, and while I was putting my bags through the body and baggage scanner, the immigration officer who had previously cleared me, called me back. He told me he had orders from above to detain me.
“Okay, at this point I’m like excuse me, my flight is in an hour. On what grounds are you detaining me?” He didn’t respond. Instead, he goes to his computer where he typed in my name, and something that looked like a ‘wanted poster’ popped up on the portal.
“He blocked my view so I couldn’t see most of it but I saw some of it. And it read something like – ‘This person is under investigation by XYZ Intelligence Agency. If seen, they should be apprehended on sight.’”
Odele said she was detained while her passport was seized by the officers and she was made to miss her flight.
The Spokesman for the NIS, Sunday James, said he did not have any information on the matter but promised to find out.
There were reports that the Federal Government had begun going after notable persons in the #EndSARS protests and had placed some of them on a ‘no fly list.’
However, the Federal Ministry of Interior denied the allegation, saying it did not generate any ‘no fly list.”
Buhari displaying traits of a dictator – #EndSARS protesters
Reacting to the reported freezing of bank accounts belonging to supporters of the campaign, the #EndSARS protesters said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was simply displaying the traits of a dictator.
A member of the group, Dayo Ariyo-Atoye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said it was unfortunate that Buhari’s regime would take extrajudicial measures to curtail the #EndSARS campaign.
He stated, “What we have seen is worrisome and totally condemnable and unfortunate. It is not impossible that this government can take an illegal measure to curtail the #EndSARS campaign, especially now that the northern irredentists are calling for a crackdown on social media and free speech.
“So, it is not unexpected that this government can do it. As a military head of state, General Buhari did it. As a civilian, he is also showing the same traits of military dictatorship.”
On what the #EndSARS movement would do, Ariyo-Atoye said his group would request foreign governments to repatriate the families of all government officials living abroad.
“If the government has compiled names of protesters to stop them from leaving the country in violation of their rights, we may compile the names of their family members in foreign countries and seek visa ban for the leaders. We would write to the foreign governments to repatriate their family members living abroad,” he stated.
It is disturbing when some Nigerians like Prof. Kingsley Moghalu make wrong assumptions just to score political points, he needs to be reminded about obvious facts he may have missed. His recent essay that the Igbo must move on caught my attention and that is why I am addressing it.
First of all, I want to remind him that the Igbo have moved on but unfortunately Nigeria have not moved on but bear unending grudges against the Igbo. Such grudges is why the region has been neglected and marginalised.
How do you know that the Igbo have moved on?
The answer to this question is everywhere in Nigeria and on every Nigerian lip when they want to be honest or want to express their anger about the Igbo buying up all their lands in their region or that they owned all businesses in their lands. The north and South West complain about the Igbo investing too much in their region, and want them out. Who then has grudges fro the past and who has moved on.
The evidence that the Igbo have moved on is why every village in Nigeria has Igbo man investing heavily in his businesses, building houses, hotels and supermarkets. Because the Igbo man has moved on is why the Igbo man go far and wide to embrace fellow Nigerians and invest in every town, city and village around Nigeria. If he has not moved on, he would not have done these things. Like one half Igbo and Hausa artist puts it recently, no Nigerian is more Nigerian than an Igbo man for these obvious reasons.
It is because the Igbo have move on is why they have huge control of the economic activities all around the country and even abandoned their own region while investing outside their own region. If the Igbo man has not moved on and has bitterness left from the war, they would have dug trenches and been fighting guerrilla war but he is busy investing and residing all over Nigeria at the detriment of their region, which many have deemed unwise. Perhaps, in the process of Igbo trying to be too patriotic they neglected their own backyard.
On the other hand, Nigeria have not moved on when the Igbo have long moved on since the war ended.
Let me quote Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe here. “The war ended 50 years ago but federal government still behave as if the war is still on” (though not verbatim)
Senator Enyinnaya succinctly captured it there how the Igbo have moved on but the federal government still treats the South East as if it is still at war with the region.
After the war ended, the federal military government under Gen. Yakubu Gowon with Biafra agreed to the 3Rs, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reconciliation but the federal government never fulfilled a single aspect of that agreement. Until today, there is almost no federal presence in the entire South East region. The federal roads in the East are the worst in the entire country. Even when these federal roads are rehabilitated by South East governors, they are hardly reimbursed by the federal government. This has discouraged the governors from expending state resources on the federal roads.
There is no international airport in the entire region until Goodluck Jonathan converted Dr Akanu Ibiam airport to International airport. Until then, the Igbo had to make the treacherous trip to Lagos to fly or go to Port Harcourt, when the region is supposed to have at least three international airports since they are topmost fliers in the country. These were done to make sure the economy of the region suffers and helped to force the citizens of the region to move away to other regions where they would easy access to these facilities.
The entire South East is not deemed fit to have seaports when the region commands the huge percentage of business ownership in the country. The Igbo travel more and do more business within and with the outside world, but the federal government does not see the region fit enough to have a seaport. Every effort was put in place to strangle the economy of the region via lack of international airport and seaports and other policies to make life hard for the Igbo
The federal governments located steel plants in Ajokuta and left out the South East though coal needed in the project is in abundance in Enugwu. They built petroleum refineries every other places and left out the East. They built airports, seaports and left out the South East. But they have built hundreds of checkpoints in the South East but the insurgency war I in the north. When will the war end?
This is not to remove the blame from the region’s state governors who have also failed to do their own bit to help push the region’s economy. They have failed to upgrade and maintain requisite infrastructural amenities for their states to do well. They have failed to build industrial estates where businesses need to incubate and grow.
You see while the Igbo have moved on, the federal government in the other hand have not moved on but maintained policies to strangulate the economy of the region and make it impossible for the region to prosper. After the war ended the federal military government revoked the licence of department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Nigeria Nsuka because it was the brain behind the chemical, biological even nuclear warfare researches that sent chills down the spine of the federal military government. And up till now such policy has not been reversed. The 3Rs accord has not been implemented and there is no plan to ever revisit it or implement it.
So, you can see that the Igbo have moved on but Nigeria have not moved on. Let’s not talk about the incessant marginalisation of the region in the scheme of things in Nigeria. The Igbo have moved on so much that other Nigerians in their regions are now asking the Igbo to move away from their regions. So, what does Nigeria really want from the Igbo?
The Former president and military head of state of Ghana, Mr Jerry Rawlings recently poured his heart on the failure of Nigeria and her romance with the former colonialist, Britain. He gave his piece of mind to the issue of Nigeria’s apparent poverty, conflict and lack of development.
He had these to sy about Nigeria:
“I can’t believe that despite the setback of Nigeria as a result of a failed British experiment on that country, Nigeria is still very much in Love with them.
He Further said that “Nigeria has everything it needs to be the greatest country not just in Africa but in the world the British knew about it”.
There are two things that can salvage Nigeria:
“The first is Nigeria must peacefully retire these old colonial leaders who are still servants to western imperialism,
“The second is Nigerians must restructure their country back to the days when it was regional system of government.
Let every region develop at its own pace, build its resources and people”.
“With this that country called NigerIia will be the greatest hub for the people of color in the world”.
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The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Reverend Adewale Martins has called on the Federal government to listen to the cries of Nigerians against the establishment of cattle colonies in states across the country.
He spoke to our correspondent shortly after administering the sacrament of confirmation on over 500 adherent of the Catholic faithful at the St Joseph Catholic Church, Kirikiri Town, saying that the establishment of Fulani settlement in states, in the name of Ruga, will create fear and suspicion among the people of the state.
He urged the Federal government to take the fear of the people of Nigeria into consideration and think out a way of settling the problems between farmers and herders, especially in the consideration that the crisis between the herdsmen and some communities in the country, which had claimed many lives, had been witnessed in the past.
His words: “Before now it had been a settlement for herdsmen and suddenly we are hearing about Ruga; it’s a very strange name to me; it just like finding another word for what people had rejected which obviously means that the Federal government needs to listen to what the people are saying. The experience of the so-called herdsmen in so many places is not pleasant, and so naturally, if you want to come to settle them there, it’s bound to bring up fear and suspicion and therefore it’s important that the Federal government should listen and therefore think out another option for what they are talking about such that the way people are thinking. They can be given assurance that nobody is trying to take their land.”
The Catholic Archbishop again supported recent comment by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that there is an agenda to “fulanised” Nigeria by the present government, explaining that, “people are worried, and they are concerned; the experience of the Fulani herdsmen that we had in the last five years had not been pleasant at all, and if nothing had been done to checkmate their activities, anybody can have a feeling that there is an agenda. And indeed, it gives one a very strong feeling that there is an agenda to stir the country towards that direction, an agenda to dominate others which our government needs to take seriously.”
He called on the government to take the allegation seriously and do more to reassure Nigerians that it was not working towards that direction, especially as the measure of trust that they need from Nigerians is not there and there is a need to build that trust if Nigerians will really take them seriously.
Archbishop Martins urged the government to do more to clear the container-bearing trailers in the Apapa, Kirikiri area to ensure that the people of the area enjoy their stay in Lagos.
He lamented that heavy-traffic gridlock at inward Kirikiri from Mile 2, calling on both state and Federal governments to work towards opening up the road for easy access to the Kirikiri town.
The cleric called on the government to fix the road to ensure that there is easy entry and exit in and out of the Kirikiri town.
Earlier in his homily, the Catholic clergy called on politicians to do their job the way God had instructed them to. He admonished Christians to always listen to the call of God, urging them to always follow Christ, learn from Him and live by Him.
The Parish Priest of St Joseph Catholic Church Kirikiri, Reverend Father Cletus Udoh thanked the archbishop for coming especially in consideration of his busy scheduled. (The Sun)
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