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Government urges media to report IPOB, others professionally

The federal government has urged the media to report activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other issues of national interest professionally.

Lai Mohammed
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed (middle), during the meeting

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said this in a meeting with select media executives in Lagos on Monday, September 18, 2017.

According to Mohammed, the Nigerian media cannot afford to sit on the fence and allow anarchy to fester, because they cannot operative in an atmosphere of anarchy.

He said IPOB is a contraption sponsored by a “coalition of the politically disgruntled and the treasury looters” to destabilise the country and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

For him, with Buhari in the saddle, those disgruntled elements would not have access to loot public funds anymore.

Mohammed said, “The activities of IPOB became heightened with the advent of this administration, and have been unrelenting since then. If this is coincidental, then that coincidence is uncanny, at the least. Remember that Nnamdi Kanu, who led a protest at the Nigeria House in London against Boko Haram insurgency and in support of Nigeria’s unity under the (Goodluck) Jonathan administration, has suddenly metamorphosed into an IPOB monster who will rather set the nation ablaze.

“Has anyone wondered why IPOB decided to up the ante, so to say, in its violent campaign immediately it was announced that Nigeria has come out of recession? Now, instead of the government being given the chance to consolidate on that monumental achievement, it is being distracted, and the airwaves have been polluted with the activities of IPOB. The good news of the end of recession and its fall-outs are being replaced in the headlines with the IPOB show of shame.

“We saw this trend early on and we warned the nation about it. The starting point was the rise of hate speech, fake news and disinformation. These were used in an attempt to downgrade the achievements of the administration and to hoodwink an unsuspecting public into believing that the administration has not moved the nation forward an inch since assuming office. Since 2016, we have been calling attention to the dangers posed by hate speech, fake news and disinformation. Our calls did not gain traction until those behind the campaign sought to overwhelm the nation.

“The self-imposed IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is the master of hate speech. No one, including the same people whose rights he claimed to be championing, escaped his vitriolic and primitive attacks. We challenge all his sympathisers to scrutinise his incendiary, divisive and inciting speeches, the name-calling and the derogatory remarks about the nation’s leaders, and then tell the nation if such do not constitute hate speech. Leaders of thought and commentators who have shown the inclination to accommodate Kanu and his excesses should say if this is what they expect from someone who wants to lead.”

Mohammed said no nation would take IPOB’s activities lying low.

He justified the military’s verdict that IPOB is a terrorist organisation, with the allegations that the group, which had been professing non-violence, mounts roadblocks and extorts innocent citizens, confronts Nigerian military, triggers conflagration nationwide through attacks and reprisals, among other atrocious acts.

“IPOB engaged in physical confrontation with troops at a checkpoint on September 11, 2017, during which they attempted to snatch soldiers’ rifles,” he said.

On IPOB’s claim that it was fighting for the rights of Ndigbo, the minister said the group was not fighting anybody’s rights.

However, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has condemned the labelling of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the army, describing it as unconstitutional.

“I wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by 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,” he said.

By Inno Onwuji

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