Former National Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof Ben Nwabueze, has said Igbo secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) cannot sit down to negotiate for peace when the tag of terrorism put on its neck by the Federal Government is still hanging.
Prof Nwabueze who is one of the mediators saddled with the job of negotiating with the group to end its calls for resuscitation of the defunct Biafra Republic and dismemberment of Nigeria by governors of Southeast states.
But he said he will no longer participate in any peace talk unless the Federal Government de-proscribe IPOB.
Nwabueze wondered why IPOB was tagged a terrorist group and proscribed by government ‘for just agitating for Biafra restoration’, while groups like Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, “which, according to him, have been slaughtering people, are moving around freely.
Nwabueze, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, spoke when members of IPOB, led by the group’s African Representative, Mr. Gorge Onyibe, visited him at his country home, Atani, in Anambra State, to apologise for disrupting a summit organised by Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) at Enugu on February 27.
Prof Nwabueze said: “There are groups and associations that have done more terrible things in this country; IPOB is only agitating for Biafra and they have not done anything more than agitation, they have killed nobody, but in contrary, they are the ones being killed.
“If we talk of the people that have massacred and slaughtered people, it is the Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen, which should be declared terrorist groups and proscribed.
“The federal government used double standard in the proscription of IPOB; what standard did they use to proscribe IPOB?
“They used another standard for Boko Haram, used another standard for Fulani herdsmen, these are the people they should proscribe.
“The people who gave quit notice to Ndigbo to leave the North in 90 days by October 1, last year, you have not proscribed them.
“This is what has destroyed Nigeria overnight. Arewa Youths organised hate speeches intended to bring about ethnic cleansing, yet, they are still moving about. Nobody proscribed them, nobody declared them a terrorist group.
“But, IPOB group doing nothing, but agitation for Biafra, was declared a terrorist group.
“And those who have slaughtered and killed innocent citizens, the Fulani herdsmen, are moving about freely with AK47, still killing people.
“They turned around to castigate Gen. T.Y Danjiuma for calling on Nigerians to defend themselves, can you imagine that. In the constitution, Section 33 guarantees the right of self defence. Somebody is attacking you with AK47 and you use stick in defence. I can’t image such idiotic thing like that.”
While addressing the IPOB delegation, Nwabueze assured them that they will be victorious their agitation for Biafra.
“You will win the cause of agitation, the agitation must continue, but, you should not make fatal mistake that will jeopardise our future, we will win.
“I will continue fighting for Ndigbo. IPOB is fighting a just fight because they are treating Igbo people as if they don’t belong to this country, injustice and nepotism everywhere.
“If I said no about injustice in 1965 at University of Lagos, you should say no today.
“If they do not want us to have Biafra, then let them stop the injustice, let them stop the inequity, let them stop all marginalization.”