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General News of Friday, 15 July 2022


IPOB Warning: FG, British High Commission mum over warning to stay off South East

Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB) Indigenous Peoples Of Biafra (IPOB)

The federal government and the British High Commission in Abuja were mum Thursday on the warning issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) asking the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing to halt planned travels in the South East warning that such trips could be “suicidal”.

In a statement issued by its spokesman,Emma Powerful, and made available to Daily Trust in Awka, Anambra State capital, on Thursday, the proscribed separatist movement alleged a plot by unnamed persons to kill the British envoy in the area and blame its members for it.

Powerful, who accused the high commissioner of “Hatred against the Igbos and Biafra” said the group would not want to harm Ms Laing but asked that she “Must as a matter of life and death suspend all her planned activities involving travels” in the South East.

In a statement issued on May 6, the British government said though it does not change its position against recognising IPOB as a terrorist organisation, as requested by the Nigerian government, they would however not grant asylum to anybody linked to the group’s violent activities.

The IPOB claimed it got the information about the alleged plan to assassinate the envoy through its intelligence arm, the M-Branch.

“We wish to advise the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing to be more conscious of her environment. We, as well call on the British High commissioner to shelve her regular visits to different parts of the Nigerian countryside especially the Biafraland otherwise referred to as the South East.

“The reason for this sincere security advice is to save her life. Despite her hatred for Biafra and Igbos in particular, we have optimal respect and value for the sanctity of life, especially visitors to our land.

The statement alleged that the plot was an “Orchestrated conspiracy to perform a sacrifice big and powerful enough to strengthen the potency of the British hatred against the Igbos and Biafra. Such high profile plan is zeroed toward using a highly placed person capable of making headline news globally as a scapegoat.

“Their aim is to quash the agitation for self-determination and to kill as many Indigenous Biafrans as possible and other residents in Biafra land”.

Powerful said IPOB does not wish the British envoy dead, “However, if she ignores this advice and walks into the trap already set by enemies of Biafra struggle that will be considered suicidal”.

According to the statement, IPOB had never attacked British persons, citizens, institutions, investments and properties of any kind, and does not have such intention now or in the future notwithstanding being at the receiving end of the British unpleasant attitudes, Igbophobic, Biafraphobic and stringent policies.

The group also accused presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu and those it called “co-cabals” of hatching plans to tarnish the image of ESN and IPOB.

No comment from FG, high commission

Segun Adeyemi, spokesperson for the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed declined comments when contacted on Thursday.

Also, the Head of Communications at the British High Commission in Abuja, Dean Hurlock, promised to revert to our reporter but failed to do so up to the time of filing this report.

When reminded to respond to the enquiry, Hurlock replied: “We don’t have any for you right now. Sorry.”

On whether the British High Commission still disagreed with Nigeria’s view of labelling IPOB as a terrorist group, he insisted that they still stand on the position.

Warning shows depth of insecurity in the S/East, plot to embarrass – Don

Two political scientists and international relations scholars who commented on the issue Thursday night said the warning showed the seriousness of the security challenge in the South East and a plot to score political points on the part of IPOB.

Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Lagos State University (LASU), Sylvester Odion yesterday said the advisory issued by IPOB to the British High Commissioner shows the high level of insecurity in the southeastern part of the country.

In a chat with Daily Trust last night, Odion said the British diplomat could be a target for the role Britain played during the Civil War when it supported the federal government against Biafra.

He said the IPOB warning has only underscored the depth of the insecurity in the South East and the seeming control of that region by IPOB terrorists.

“It is very dangerous for any VIP to go at this moment. Even Igbo people who are indigenes of the South East, many of them are afraid to travel talkless of a big target.

The university don warned the British Commissioner that traveling to the South East could be risky even as the US and the UK had issued travel advisory for their citizens against going to the East and other parts of the country.

“Perhaps it might be in their interest to warn the diplomats not to travel there and even I do not also see the reason why the diplomats want to travel to the East when both the US and Britain have issued travel warnings in certain parts of Nigeria.

“It is in that context that it can be seen and if they are hostile to the British diplomats, it could not be unconnected also with the role that they played when Nnamdi Kanu was to be extradited from Kenya without the British intervening on behalf of someone who is believed to be a British citizen.”

On his part, a lecturer with the Department of Social Sciences, Kano State College of Arts, Science and Preliminary Studies, Dr Kabiru Sa’id Sufi, said the main reason for the statement is to embarrass the federal government and send wrong signals to the international community.

He explained that “The main reason behind the statement is to embarrass the federal government of Nigeria and to overblow the situation out of proportion. But then, not many people can look at it from that angle.

“There is every possibility that that statement may send jitters to a lot of quarters and hamper diplomatic fizzles and send wrong signals.

“I think it needs to be downplayed. The federal government on its part has to counter the statement and also issue a reassurance statement, not only to the diplomatic visitor but to all and sundry that it is up and doing.

“The statement has a lot of implications, especially coming at a time when the president has just complained about the absence of direct foreign investment in the country. It is a great signal to the international community that some parts of the country are not safe and secure.

“Secondly, there is every possibility that countries can issue travel advisory to their citizens against traveling to some parts of the country, which will also have some political and economic implications on the country.

“It also shows the enormity and magnitude of the crises in the region is beyond what local media is portraying and is beyond what people know and believe to be the extent of the crisis. So, it has so many implications,” Dr Sufi added.

INEC staff injured as gunmen attack registration centre in Enugu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said one of its staff was injured when gunmen suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) attacked the commission’s registration officials in Enugu State.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said in Abuja yesterday that “In the ensuing stampede, one of our staff sustained injuries and is receiving treatment in a hospital.

“However, two voter registration machines and personal items of the staff such as mobile phones were lost.”

He said the Administrative Secretary in Enugu State, Mr. Jude Okwuonu, reported that at about 2.30pm on Wednesday 13th July 2022, INEC officials involved in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise were attacked by gunmen in the Community Primary School, Umuopu in Umuozzi Ward 19 of Igboeze North Local Government Area.

According to him, the gunmen fired sporadically into the air to disperse registrants and registration officials.

He recalled that on July 3, 2022, INEC office in Ogboeze North Local Government Area was burnt down by arsonists.


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