The presidency, on Thursday, said every other group that operated like the secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, would also be proscribed and tagged as a terrorist organization.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this during a live television programme titled, ‘Sunrise Daily’ on Channels Television.
Mr.Shehu said IPOB operated like Boko Haram by declaring an independent state and hoisting a foreign flag on Nigerian soil.
He also accused the secessionist group of printing Biafran currency; issuing Biafran passports and extorting money from people under the guise of compulsory tax collection.
When asked what the federal government would do if a similar group emerged following the proscription of IPOB, Shehu said, “If another group comes up and produces passports and produces currency and sets up an intelligence agency and a para-military organization of sorts, the law will apply to them as it did to IPOB.”
The president’s spokesman said groups like the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, would not need to be proscribed because they were not as violent and unruly as IPOB.
He said the Arewa youths, who issued a notice to quit to Igbo, were not given the IPOB treatment because they had withdrawn their threat and had succumbed to the voice of reason.
Mr. Shehu, however, said the same could not be said of IPOB.
The president’s aide also rubbished arguments that the federal government was treating the herdsmen crisis with kid gloves.
“There is a criminal activity and terrorist activity. Yes, the Fulani herdsmen are a criminal gang and they are being dealt with in accordance with the law, but IPOB, like Boko Haram, has carved out a territory as a sovereign state and they have raised concerns in Kogi and Benue and have boasted that they will take over Bayelsa and Rivers," he said.
“That was exactly what Boko Haram did and the taxation system and hoisting of flags. This is not acceptable.”
When asked why the government was able to quickly identify the source of IPOB’s funding but had failed to trace that of Boko Haram, Shehu said IPOB’s case was easier because they usually canvassed funds openly.
“Funding is canvassed for IPOB openly in some Western countries and traders of Nigerian origin in these countries send money back home. Why is the government not able to identify the source of funding for Boko Haram?"
“It is perhaps more complicated than we are seeing, and if you look at the president’s message at the United Nations, he asked for the funding of Boko Haram be traced and blocked,” he said.