Kingsley Moghalu, a former presidential candidate, has urged the Federal Government to engage in discussion with secessionists, believing that addressing the fundamental reasons for their agitations may aid in the de-escalation of tensions in the West African Nation.
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Moghalu made the statement on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily breakfast show on Wednesday and believes that secessionist agitators feel marginalised and are seeking justice.
“I believe that the government should be able to welcome all secessionists to the table, whether it is IPOB or Sunday Igboho,” the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor stated.
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The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), the group spearheading agitations for the construction of an independent Biafra nation, was proscribed by the Nigerian government in 2017, but Moghalu has criticised the move, urging that the reasons for their activities be investigated.
While he acknowledged that IPOB and other agitators may be approaching their problems incorrectly, he emphasised that labelling them terrorists is not the best way to deal with the problem.
“They’re essentially political agitators,” says the author. They can be labelled as terrorists. That is your choice, but we are aware of what terrorism entails in practice. Boko Haram is a terrorist organisation. That is something we are aware of,” the economist and lawyer stated.
“When people start political agitations, we may easily label them as terrorists just because they are mouthing off and speaking in an unpopular language or abusing their fellow citizens. That is how they deal with situations like these.
“Are we able to deal with the agitations? Don’t be afraid to address the root causes of the uprising since they are pleading for justice. They have a sense of exclusion. What’s wrong with dealing with those problems?”
IPOB’s secessionist agitations are gaining traction.
The sit-at-home order, according to IPOB, was issued to honour victims of the Nigerian Civil War.
Secessionist sentiment has grown in Africa’s most populous country, particularly in the southeast and southwest.
Sunday ‘Igboho’ Adeyemo, who shot to notoriety earlier this year after issuing a quit notice to herders accused of crimes in Oyo State, is leading calls for the creation of a Yoruba nation, threatening to derail the 2023 elections.
Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in 2015, IPOB relaunched its push for the independence of the southeast region, accusing the government of marginalising the region.
Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader, fled the nation a year after being charged with treason, but the pro-Biafra organisation called for a sit-in in the region on Monday to commemorate the end of the Nigerian Civil War.
Conflicts between secessionists and Nigerian security personnel have also made the news. The Nigerian Army claimed it assaulted a “terrorist enclave” maintained by members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN), IPOB’s security wing, in Rivers State over the weekend, killing at least seven people.
“During the Clearance/Raid Operation, 7 IPOB/ESN members were neutralised and 5 suspects were arrested,” the army said in a statement signed by Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, the army spokesman.
“The security personnel also recovered several goods belonging to the perpetrators, including rifles and ammunition. The camp was demolished right away, and the suspects and bodies were handed over to the police for further investigation.”
The security service, on the other hand, has vowed not to back down in its efforts to eliminate the organisation and other criminal groups operating in the country.
During the passing out parade of the 80 regular recruits intake at the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria in Kaduna State on Saturday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Major General Farouk Yahaya said, “Nigeria is facing numerous security challenges occasioned by the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group, armed bandits kidnappers, IPOB and other criminal elements.” “Until this country is free, we will not rest on our oars.”