Peter Obi excludes IPOB from Nigerian terrorist groups, lists Boko Haram, ISWAP
Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi has excluded the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) from terrorist groups in Nigeria.
IPOB, a secession group in the southeast region seeking separation from Nigeria, was proscribed and listed as a terrorist group in Nigeria in September 2017 – as the Jihadist group Boko Haram and ISWAP.
The United Kingdom government in May 2022 accepted Nigeria’s classification of IPOB as a terrorist organisation and directed that IPOB members be excluded from its asylum programme.
Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, has come under fire from critics and members of opposition parties when he excluded IPOB from the list of terror groups in his speech to commemorate Nigeria’s annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day.
The Labour Party candidate stated that he is committed to a ‘One United and Secured Progressive Nigeria’ and expressed dissatisfaction at the rate of unemployment, injustice, poverty, lack of opportunities, and exclusion.
Obi thereafter noted in a tweet that “A working Nigeria with equity, justice, and fairness will also definitely and effectively checkmate such extreme groups like Boko Haram and ISWAP.”
The exclusion of IPOB from the terror groups in Nigeria by Obi did not come as surprise to some critics and opposition who accused the former Anambra State governor of being a sympathiser to the secessionist group.
A Nigerian digital strategist and author Japhet Omojuwa tweeted that it is “shocking that people in the replies expect our Incoming to list IPOB as a terrorist organisation” and made reference to an article where Obi had said IPOB members are not terrorists.
“The only thing I disagree with is naming IPOB terrorists. They are not terrorists. Those who took the decision may have information that I don’t have,” Obi said in a report by Premium Times.
“I live in Onitsha, and I can tell you they are not terrorists. They (IPOB members) are people I pass on the road every time, (and) every day.”
Obi insisted that IPOB did not constitute a threat to Nigeria.
“I meet them and live with them. In fact, I usually see (IPOB) people gathering, and not one day has there been a threat or molestation or anything from them, even when they gather.”
The killings and unrest in southeast Nigeria have been credited to IPOB by the Nigerian police. The separatist group disassociated itself from the claim as it is protesting the detention of its leader Nnamdi Kanu by the Nigerian government.
The Guardian reported a town hall organised by Channels Television where Obi and his running mate Datti Baba-Ahmed discussed their plans on employment, economy, security and other issues in Nigeria. Obi disclosed that if elected president in the February election, he will ‘bring out’ jailed agitators and insurgents for dialogue.
“I’ll discuss with everybody – even if you have been jailed, I’ll bring you out and we will discuss,” Obi said.