The highest decision-making organ of the Igbo socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Imeobi Ohanaeze, has faulted the declaration of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as a terrorist group by the Nigerian military.
The Imeobi stated this in a 9-point communique it issued at the end of its meeting on Saturday at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel Enugu.
The communique was signed by Ohanaeze President -General, John Nwodo, and Secretary-General, Uche Okwukwu.
The military had two days ago declared the pro-Biafran separatist group, IPOB, a terrorist organisation after clashes between security operatives and the IPOB members in Aba and Umuahia which led to many injuries.
The clashes followed the launch of operation python dance II by the Army in the South-east region.
The clashes also made the South-east governors proscribe the Nnamdi Kanu-led secessionist group on Friday. The governors meeting in Enugu was attended by the Ohanaeze and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
But the Imeobi in faulting the military’s declaration argued that the defence headquarters did not follow due process.
“That Imeobi resolved that IPOB is not a terrorist organization. There are processes under extant national and international laws, especially the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, as Amended in 2015 to determine whether a group is or not a terrorist organisation”, the communique said.
The group also described as regrettable the decision of the Nigerian Army to commence Operation Python Dance II in the South East and called for immediate termination of the exercise.
It further argued that military option is never a solution to problem of nation-building.
“We refer for instance to the goings on in Spain, Scotland and other parts of the world to reaffirm that only through dialogue can the national question be resolved. Consequently, we condemn all acts of violence in pursuance of freedom of expression”, the group said.
The Imeobi said it noted with great concern the continued ‘policy of marginalisation’ of South-east Nigeria, arguing that it is “the basic cause of the renewed agitation by the separatist groups”.
The group described as “unfortunate and deplorable” the reported loss of lives during the military intervention and conveyed its sympathies to the bereaved families.
The Imeobi maintained “that it is the sole responsibility of the Police in every democracy to maintain law and order and protection of lives and property of its citizens”.
It commended the efforts of the governors of the South-east, South-east National Assembly caucus and Ohanaeze leadership to douse the tension in the region and urged them to continue in their efforts until normalcy is restored.
They reiterated its stance that “a united Nigeria under a restructured federal system of government that guarantees justice, equity and farness is the best system for this country”.
“Accordingly, Ohanaeze is mandated to organise a Special Summit soonest of Igbo nation in support of the restructuring agenda”, the communique added.
The Imeobi also approved the dissolution of the national executives of youth and women wings of Ohanaeze.