..South-East governors can’t kill Biafra — IPOB
…Buratai: FG has final say on whether IPOB is a terror group
.. Northern Govs embark on peace mission to S-East, S-South
…Buratai: FG has final say on whether IPOB is a terror group
…Buratai: FG has final say on whether IPOB is a terror group
ABUJA — SENATE President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has kicked against the Defence Headquarters’ categorization of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, as a terrorist organisation, saying that it was not only unconstitutional but also against due process and such had no effect.
He urged those who had been acting on the categorization to cool down because “we are a country that operates by laid-down process under every circumstance.”
Saraki’s declaration came as the federal government yesterday directed the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to initiate a process in court today to ban IPOB.
At the weekend, the Police said they would prosecute arrested IPOB members with charges of terrorism.
But Saraki in a statement he personally signed yesterday, said the National Assembly will carry out a holistic investigation into the military’s show of force in the South-East and its ongoing Operation Python Dance II, particularly in remote villages around Umuahia, the Abia State capital, as well as the crisis in the geo-political zone. He called for calm and restraint among all Nigerians to ensure that all hands are on deck to find the right solution to the current problem rather than worsening the crisis.
Saraki spoke as Nigerian Army said yesterday that its categorization of IPOB as a terrorist organization last week was not the position of the country, saying the power to declare an organization a terrorist group lies with relevant federal government agencies.
This is even as five northern governors, yesterday began a two-day visit to the South-East and South-South geo-political zones in search of peace, with Abia as their first port of call.
Also, members of the South-East Senate Caucus yesterday, said that they were all united in support of Saraki’s position.
S-East senators back Saraki
Speaking in Abuja, Chairman of the caucus, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, said the caucus was aligning with the position of Saraki that the proscription and categorization of IPOB as a terrorist organization was unconstitutional, adding, “we align with the position of the Senate President and we are calling for full investigation into the crisis.”
Saraki’s statement reads in full: “Following the clash between the military and members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, I hereby call for calm and restraint by all Nigerians so that we would all jointly find the right solution to the current problem rather than worsening the crisis.
“Our brothers and sisters in the South-East, in particular, should continue to maintain peace and tranquility and go about their lawful business. This crisis will not benefit anybody but would only expose innocent people to unwarranted danger.
“At this point, Nigerians outside the South-East who have worked to ensure that the crisis does not spread to other parts of the country deserve our commendation. I, therefore, call for continued efforts to sustain peace, unity and stability in all our communities so as to ensure that all residents, no matter their religion, tribe and creed, remain protected and safe under the law.
“It is also important that commentators and purveyors of information on all media platforms should be conscious of the need, at all times, to maintain the unity of the country. Therefore, they must refrain from circulating information that has the potential to aggravate the crisis.
“We should all realise, as individuals and as a collective, that Nigeria is all we have and it is in our individual and collective interests that we do not stoke the fire of crisis and fan the ember of discord through the message we are spreading. We must all protect and strengthen our country rather than contributing to her collapse and disintegration.
“I also 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 categorization of the group as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does 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.
“We must commend the military for their efforts in restoring peace to different parts of the country and sustaining the unity of the country. However, in the face of provocation, the military should allow themselves to be guided by their training which emphasises respect for human rights, even in war. Also, given the nature of this particular situation, the military has every reason to be hesitant in the use of force.
“Also, it is my view that we should not over-stretch the military. We need to protect our military against dissipation of their fighting strength. And this means we need to strengthen the Police and equip them with the capacity to deal with civil crises.
“That is why we, in the National Assembly, are already reviewing the Police Act and also looking at the possibility of enabling other para-military agencies to help in curbing civil unrest and maintenance of law and order.
“I want to also make it clear that the National Assembly intends to embark on a fact-finding investigation aimed at determining what actually happened during the period of the military exercise in the South-East.
“We want to be able to sift the facts from the fiction and determine who did what. It is quite clear that all the facts are not yet known. We assure Nigerians that there will be no cover-up. We intend to lay the facts bare.
“On a long term, we want to remind Nigerians that the reason for embarking on constitution review by the National Assembly was to enable us look into issues that are agitating the minds of Nigerians and creating tension among us. We have promised that the exercise would be continuous.
“We intend to keep that promise by further taking decisions that would strengthen and improve on our structures. The Eighth National Assembly, on resumption, will play its constitutional role by addressing all those issues that are agitating the minds of our people and over which they feel so strong. I appeal to all our people to always direct their grievances to the right channels.
“Let me further reiterate the need for all leaders of thought — political, religious and traditional — to continue to engage with our people on the need to maintain peace and be our brothers’ keepers.”
FG has final say on declaration of IPOB as terrorists organization — Army chief
However, the Nigerian Army, said last week’s position on the status of IPOB is not the position of the country, saying the power to declare an organization as a terrorist group lies with relevant federal government agencies.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, who said this, on the occasion of the Nigerian Army Chief of Army Staff, COAS, 2nd and 3rd Quarters Conference 2017, held in Abuja, stressed that though the Army had labeled the separatist IPOB a terrorist group and South-East governors subsequently proscribed it, the Federal Government would take a final decision on the pronouncements.
He noted that there are guidelines as provided in the country’s Terrorism Act which conferred such powers exclusively on some relevant government agencies.
His words: “As regards the proscription, this is what I want to give: the federal government will take a final decision on that. There are guidelines as provided in the Terrorism Act and I am sure the relevant government agencies will take appropriate steps whether to arrest or whether to do any other actions and we will receive the appropriate directives from the authorities.”
Buratai said the ongoing Operation Python Dance II in the South-East and the forthcoming Operation Crocodile Smile in both the South-South and South-West, are aimed at reassuring Nigerians, and law abiding citizens that the Nigerian Army and, indeed, other security agencies are really concerned with the safety and security of their lives and property in the country.
Army not under pressure from FG — Buratai
He denied insinuations that the Nigerian Army was acting under political pressure from the Federal Government to veer off its core mandate in its ongoing operation in the South East, saying the service was merely carrying out its constitutionally assigned duty.
The Nigerian Army boss, who disclosed that Operation Crocodile Smile II, would only be launched immediately after Operation Python Dance II, said the organization under him was totally loyal to the federal administration, even as he charged its personnel to remain apolitical in their chosen career.
He disagreed with those who hold the view that his organization was under political pressure from certain quarters to violate its rules of engagement in the ongoing Operation Python Dance II in the South-East.
“You should understand the context by which the Nigerian Army is operating. Nigerian Army is part of the political consideration in the democratic system. It is part of the democratic process, it is a product of the democratic governance. So we are not receiving any pressure, we are giving what the constitution provided for us, constitutionally what our responsibilities are for us.
“So we are not under any pressure whatsoever. There are several provisions that give us those responsibilities and also to carry out such task as duly assigned by the government or by the constituted authority.
“Be rest assured that we don’t have any other role that is outside the constitution. Nigerian Army is part of the political consideration in the democratic system; it is part of the democratic process, it’s a product of the democratic governance, “he said.
He also dismissed insinuation that the conference was aimed at keeping commanders abreast of strategies on the various operations in the southern part of the country.
Hear him: “Training is a continuous exercise in the Nigerian Army in particular and the military in general. Since we came on board in 2015, we have been having series of exercises and we did the same set of exercises in 2016 and we are repeating the same thing this year.
‘’You are aware of Operation Harbin Kunama II, the ongoing Egwu Eke II in the South-East and very soon, at the the end of Python Dance, we move into Crocodile Smile II. This is just to reassure Nigerians, law abiding citizens that the Nigerian Army and indeed other security agencies are really concerned with the safety and security of their lives and property.”
Why we are visiting S-East, S-South – Northern govs
The five Northern governors on peace mission to the South-East and South-South to douse tension and promote peace and dialogue among all sections of Nigeria include chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima.
Others in the delegation are Governors Aminu Masari of Katsina, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi and Simon Lalong of Plateau states.
According to a statement by Imam Imam, Sokoto governor’s spokesman, the delegation, which arrived Abia State, yesterday, “will hold meetings with their counterparts in Rivers, Abia and Imo States.
“Apart from the visit to political leaderships in those states, the delegation is expected to meet with traditional and religious leaders. They will also confer with Northerners resident in those states. “Importantly, the delegation will reassure their counterparts in the South-South and South-East that all Nigerians are free to stay in all parts of the country, especially in the North, and that the entire North stands with the people of South-East in this period of heightened tension.”
He said the visit has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the consultations would continue with all stakeholders to enhance unity and peace in Nigeria.
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