A former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, says the de-proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB as a terrorist organisation will pave the way for dialogue and amicable solution to the crisis engulfing the South-Eastern part of the country.
Ejiofor stated this in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH on Monday.
He also said the people of the zone complied with IPOB’s sit-at-home order probably because they feared being caught up in a crossfire between state security agents and operatives of IPOB’s Eastern Security Network.
“People comply with the lockdown out of fear. People are afraid of both the military and IPOB, they are afraid of the consequences of coming out. There could be a clash between IPOB and security forces and the people might be caught in a crossfire. So, the best thing to do is to stay at home.”
The South-East has been a theatre of violence of late as rampaging gunmen unleash unprintable and unprecedented mayhem on the five states in the geopolitical zone. Just this year, the hoodlums have burned down scores of offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission, police stations and other government structures in the zone.
Asked whether the growing insecurity in the zone will affect the 2023 elections, the former DSS director said, “Until we get there but the government should find a way of resolving this issue before the election.
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“Unfortunately, the government cannot engage a terrorist organisation. IPOB has been classified as a terrorist organsation. The government should look for a political solution by de-proscribing IPOB and engaging them in dialogue.
“But not only IPOB, the government should also engage the leaders in the South-East. This will kind of douse tension because there is so much tension in the land. This is a political problem that requires a political solution. If we continue to flex muscles – IPOB on one side, the government on the other side – the citizens will suffer because when two elephants fight, the grass suffer – the citizens will suffer both economically and politically.”
The regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had in September 2017 outlawed IPOB and declared that the activities of the secessionist group constituted an act of terrorism and illegality.
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Before then, the leader of the group, Nnamdi Kanu, was arrested and jailed but was later released from the Kuje Prison in Abuja after meeting bail conditions. The IPOB leader later fled the country and has been operating from overseas.