The Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, has criticised the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for faulting the military’s declaraton of IPOB as a terrorist group.
Mr. Saraki on Monday said the military has no constitutional power to declare any group a terrorist organisation. He also said the South-east governors who proscribed the pro-Biafran separatist group had no power to do so.
In his reaction, Mr. Doguwa, a member of Mr. Saraki’s All Progressives Congress, said the senate president’s stance was “a mere political statement.”
“For me, the recent comment made by the Senate President on this matter was a mere political statement that would only portray him as a controversial leader,” he said.
Mr. Doguwa said considering the attacks allegedly meted out on innocent Nigerians by the IPOB group in the South-east and the conduct of northern governors to stop possible reprisals in the North, the senate president’s statement was unnecessary.
“I am sure the senate president was only expressing his personal opinion, which I further believe was not a good one in the given circumstances.”
“The Nigerian Armed forces in my opinion are doing their best professionally and in the best interest of a united Nigeria.”
“Even the South-eastern state governors have declared the activities of Kanu’s IPOB as illegal and therefore proscribed. He (Senate President) can’t cry more than the bereaved,” Mr. Doguwa said.
In Mr. Saraki’s statement on Monday, he commended the military for maintaining the peace in the South-east but added that their declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation was unconstitutional.
He said, “I also wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra by the governors of the South-East states and the categorisation of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and do not follow due process.”
“Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect. I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process.
“This will go a long way in demonstrating to the world at large that we are a country that operates by laid down process under every circumstance. So, those who have been hammering on this point should maintain their cool,” Mr. Saraki said.
Mr. Saraki also said the National Assembly would investigate the crisis in the South-east when it reconvenes next week.
The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Monday tried to clarify the military’s stance, saying the defence headquarters did not declare IPOB a terror organisation.
“What the Defence Headquarters said was to make a pronouncement, it was not a declaration, but this has given room for the right step to be taken.”
” I think the government is doing the right thing, it is not that we overstepped our bounds, we are still within the limits of the law,” he said.
He added that what the military said was to set the ball rolling and to bring to the awareness of the public that this is what the organisation is about.
“I am happy that the government has done the right thing,” he said.