To underscore its avowal to deal with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Federal Government has given indication that it has designated the group as a terrorist organisation during the arraignment of the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
Kanu, who last Monday, November 23, was arraigned before an Abuja Magistrate’s Court over terrorism- related charges by the Department of States Services (DSS), pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge slammed on him.
The DSS asked the court to allow it file another charge bothering on terrorism against Kanu before a higher court.
‘Moving the application for filing a fresh charge, prosecution counsel, Moses Idakwo, informed the court that after the arraignment of the accused, the complainant stumbled on some facts, which took the matter out of the jurisdiction of the court. He further submitted that the complainant found out that the accused was involved in terrorism and has been financing it.
“It was on that ground that the prosecution applied for the discontinuance of the trial pursuant to Section 108(1) of administration of criminal justice act 2015.”
Our correspondent learnt that the decision to press terrorism charges against Mr Kanu may not be unconnected with the determination of the President Muhammadu Buhari regime to clamp down hard on the group and similar organisations clamouring for greater autonomy and resource control in the South East and South South of Nigeria.
A source privy to the terrorist labelling by the FG told thewhistler that Buhari strongly believes doing so will give the military the latitude to come down hard on those who support the IPOB.
“The group is now a terrorist organisation going by what the Federal Government said in court when Nnamdi Kanu was arraigned by the DSS.
“What President Buhari wants to do is to send out a strong message to those who are toying with the idea of secession and to give the military greater latitude to clamp down on the protagonists of Biafra. From what I know, the Attorney General is working out the finer details of the legal instrument so that it will be gazetted,” the source, who requested not to be named, said as he was not permitted to speak.
Kanu is in the custody of the DSS on the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which granted the internal secret agency of Nigeria to keep the Biafra Radio director in its custody for 90 days.
Despite the move by the Federal Government, supporters of the IPOB have continued with their peaceful protest mainly in the South East of Nigeria.
For the past few days, the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State, Onitsha, was taken over by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) demanding the release of Kanu.
In a related development, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has expressed concern over the agitation for the actualisation of Biafra.
The Sultan speaking at the 2nd General Assembly of the Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council in Kaduna, Abubakar said: “We are very much concerned about this issue because we know we have millions of Igbo residing with us in our homes, in our towns and in our states.”
According to him, traditional rulers in the North are very concerned about the agitation for Biafra and promised to “set up a small committee of senior traditional rulers to go down to South-East and engage our brothers there (traditional rulers) so that we will know how we can help to stop this agitation.
“We believe in dialogue, whatever the problem is with anybody, we believe we should sit down and discuss and a solution will be found.”