A major arms struggle that could further jeopardise Nigeria’s security situation may be in the offing as major separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), yesterday declared its resolve to take up arms to forestall extra-judicial killing of its members.
IPOB vowed to invoke the principle of self-defence. The threat followed the alleged killing, maiming and illegal detention of their members during a rally to show solidarity to the US President Donald Trump on Friday, January 20 in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The pro-Biafra group stated that 20 of its members were killed in Port Harcourt. But the police had insisted that nobody was killed during the pro- Trump rally.
IPOB warns that the killing of its members last Friday would inevitably lead to an armed conflict unless the perpetrators are brought to book. But the police warn that anybody or group that take up arms in self-defence will be treated as a criminal.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah, an acting Commissioner of Police, told New Telegraph last night that the law will take its course if IPOB or any group take up arms in self-defence.
“There is no law in Nigeria that permits an individual or group of individuals to take up arms in self-defence under any guise. The law will take its course against infractions of the law,” Awunah said.
The Nnamdi Kanu-led group said that it would no longer stand and watch its members mowed down by trigger-happy security agents.
The group, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Comrade Emma Powerful, said: “This disgraceful episode of statesponsored terrorism will inevitably lead to armed conflict sooner or later unless the culprits are brought to book.
Those that issued the orders from Aso Rock must face trial or IPOB will resort to armed conflict since they have made peaceful change inevitable.
“We are placing humanity in notice that events of 20th of January 2017 will be the last time IPOB will march without self-defence mechanism in place. Nobody should say we did not warn them because we will continue to march until Biafra is restored.”
The group argued that all over the world, there were anti-Trump rallies held without a single loss of life. “Even in Washington DC itself, there were violent protests, but not a single soul was shot, talk less of being killed.
“But the Nigeria Government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari and his security agencies, have proven once again how primitive they are by killing groups of people who were doing nothing wrong except partake in solidarity rally for the new American president.
“In January 2009 there was a solidarity rally in support of the then elected President Barack Obama in Nigeria, no killing was recorded.
The world must know that governance in Nigeria has become too crude and uncivilised that acts clearly provided for in the constitution are termed illegal by law enforcement agents to the point that wholesale massacre is warranted and, in this case, justified,” the pro-Biafra group stated.
According to IPOB, the Nigerian police initially denied the mass murder, but later changed their statement to acknowledge they killed one person, only to deny again that any killing took place.
“They keep changing their story. The video evidence is there to show to the entire world that 20 people were killed by the Nigerian Government during the said rally for Trump.
IPOB is a highly efficient and intelligent organisation with many professionals and security experts scattered all over the world,” Powerful said.
It noted that the casualty figure could have been outrageously high if not for the timely intervention of the US Embassy in Abuja, the British High Commission, Italian Embassy, EU and UN missions in Abuja all of which the group said it promptly notified as the killings were going on.
While adding that the killing of its members on Friday further confirmed the annual reports of Amnesty International and other human rights organisations last year which indicted the Nigerian Government and its security agencies, IPOB stressed that its members would no longer be prey to acts of impunity by Nigerian security agencies.
“The public is hereby placed on notice that these killings cannot continue unchecked because we have and must invoke our right to self-defence very soon.
No Fulani herdsmen has been arrested or killed, Boko Haram terrorists are being released without charge, but the public appear comfortable with the massacre of innocent people for rallying for Trump,” the statement concludes.
Director of Defence Information, Defence Headquarters, Brig.-Gen Rabe Abubakar, cautioned against self-defence. Abubakar told New Telegraph that nobody is above the law.
The DHQ said: “That’s illegal and unacceptable. Nobody is above the law, and already there are trained security forces that are to protect lives and property of all citizens, including the lives of our brothers, the IPOB, and any other person or group of persons.
“We strongly advise any group that Nigeria is above anybody or group, and we shall act professionally to ensure security in our great nation, no matter the blackmail. “Peace is always the answer; we are seeing what crises (have) brought to some countries. Good and responsible citizen prays and works for their countries not violence.
“This is a nation (and) nobody can take law into his or her hands; we must be law-abiding to move forward.” Meanwhile, the South- East Senate Caucus has condemned in strong terms the alleged killings of unarmed members IPOB in Port Harcourt by security agencies.
It also called for a thorough investigation by the Federal Government into the allegations of deliberate application of excessive force by security agencies in the containment of peaceful assembly, particularly when groups from the South-East are involved, with particular reference to the latest action.
The caucus, in a statement in Abuja yesterday, through its Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the mere fact that the security agencies applied excess force in a peaceful rally was reprehensible and put to question an emerging pattern in the containment of peaceful assembly in Nigeria.
Abaribe said the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for the freedom of association and the right of the people to freely assemble to express their common interest. “The last time I checked, that section of the constitution is still intact and has not been amended.
It is, therefore, worrisome that the rights of a section of Nigerians would be so wilfully denied with such extra force.
“If the report of killings by the security agencies were to be confirmed, it would, no doubt, leave a gaping hole in the unity of this country.
Consequently, the South- East Senate Caucus, according to Abaribe, is not only demanding a stop to this heinous act, but also urges the Federal Government to investigate the high handedness of its security services in the handling of civil protests with particular emphasis on the latest action by her security agencies in Port Harcourt.