Information and culture minister Lai Mohammed has described the ongoing unrest by separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), as an orchestrated plot to scuttle the Buhari administration.
He pointed accusing finger at those he called "coalition of the politically disgruntled and the treasury looters" who have been sponsoring the group to destabilize Nigeria and trigger chaos.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Sunday, Mohammed noted that the activities of the group led by Nnamdi Kanu has reached a crescendo threatening the unity of Nigeria.
The Minister labeled IPOB "a rag tag mob", saying its members felt they could seize a large swathe of the Nigerian territory, set up parallel military and para-military organizations, mount road blocks and even confront the Nigerian military, solicit for weapons and incite hatred and violence."
He commended Nigerian military, which declared IPOB as terrorist organisation, for living up to its constitutional responsibility.
Mohammed also applauded South East Governors for proscribing IPOB, but added that the development was long overdue.
He said, "There is no doubt that the wounds inflicted on the nation’s psyche by the activities of IPOB will take some time to heal. But while that happens, Nigerians must understand that IPOB was NOT set up to fight for the right of anyone or group, but as a tool to destabilize the nation, divert attention from the efforts of the Buhari Administration and obliterate the laudable achievements of the Administration.
"IPOB is being sponsored by those I will call the Coalition of the Politically Disgruntled and the Treasury Looters. They believe that by sponsoring this group to destabilize the country and trigger chaos, they will realize their ambition of escaping justice and then be free to dip their hands into the nation’s treasury again.
"The signs are very clear: 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 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 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 sympathizers to scrutinize 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 mocked IPOB for externalising the military operation, dismissing it as "lies and propaganda."
"Now they are writing to the governments and the national parliaments of some Western nations to give the impression that they are victims of an ethno-sectarian violence orchestrated by the government, hence they need protection.
"The truth is that IPOB is being sponsored to destabilize our nation. It serves no other purpose beyond that," he said.
He cautioned the media to be professional, while opinion leaders should be moderate in their interventions in order not to aggravate the situation on ground.
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