The Nigerian government is set to petition the United Kingdom (UK) over an inciting audio recording by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which allegedly triggered protests, looting and killings in Lagos and other parts of the South.
This comes as former Heads of State were said to have risen from an emergeny meeting at the Presidential Villa last night and described the outlawed IPOB as a ‘biggest threat’ warning that such an inciting audio trip as released by Nnamdi Kanu would not be tolerated.
Although details of the meeting were not made known, a dependable source said that during the meeting, the issue of IPOB and the alleged audio by Kanu were discussed as well as the crisis in Lagos
The source said the government was working with the international community to build a case against IPOB.
Reports that there have been growing concerns over Nnamdi Kanu’s trending audio recording and its alleged link to the Lagos lootings following the #endSARS protests.
In the audio which went viral, Kanu on Tuesday had called on his protesters disguised as EndSARs protesters to ambush and kill all governors, soldiers, policemen and destroy properties belonging to the government and Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He had also claimed responsibility for some havoc caused in Lagos in the wake of the #endSARS protests, and these have generated reactions from both the Yoruba and Igbo sides.
Many have argued that the instructions he gave out in the audio has been carried out as most businesses owned by Bola Ahmed Tinibu were destroyed. It would be recalled that a governor was attacked last week, leaving his car destroyed. There are, however, unconfirmed reports that a police officer was on Thursday beheaded and burnt to ashes by suspected hoodlums during the #ENDSARS protest in Nnewi, Anambra State with tens of police stations destroyed and burnt across the country.
Although Kanu has since denied the audio, a top government said that an independent verification has been conducted on the authenticity of the audio which proved his (Kanu’s) involvement.
Kanu in a statement said he did not order the attack and destruction of economic assets of the Yoruba people in Lagos State, insisting that the enemies of Igbo-Yoruba unity were spreading false information to cause disaffection and war between the two major ethnic groups.
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But the source who spoke in confidence, said the verification of the audio has been passed on to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which in turn is set to petition the UK government over the matter.
He said in the petition, the Nigerian government is seeking to know what measures it would take over the proscribed IPOB leader who is residing in the UK and spreading hate speech and violence in Nigeria.
When contacted yesterday, Dean Hurlock, the 2nd Secretary, Political/Communications, UK High Commission in Nigeria requested for the audio links and promised to check with relevant authorities before responding appropriately.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is yet to get any official communication from the Nigerian High Commission in London regarding the recent activities of the outlawed IPOB leader
The ministry’s spokesperson, Mr. Ferdinand Nwonye told our correspondent on the phone that the Nigerian mission in London may be directed to engage the host government on Kanu’s issue.
“Nothing has come from our mission in London. We have to find out from them whether they are aware of it. From next week, action will be taken.
“I will discuss with my principal officers and draw their attention to it. The mission could be directed to engage the host government on the issue.
“We don’t need those inciting remarks at a time Nigeria and the rest of the world is still battling with COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout,” he said.
Asari Dokubo blows hot
In a video that went viral yesterday, Asari Dokubo, the former Niger Delta militant who has always supported the Biafran agitation condemned Nnamdi Kanu’s speech and calls on attacks on Yoruba politicians in Lagos.
Asari noted that it was not the kind of Biafran agitation he (Asari) identified with. Asari also made mention of getting reports of indigenous Muslims being attacked. He, however, concluded that if this continued, the hope of realizing Biafra will not be achieved, noting that Biafra isn’t for one ethnic group or one religion.
Eminent Yoruba, leaders speak
Eminent Yoruba Leaders of thought under the platform of Yoruba World Congress (YWC), said the wanton destruction of properties and monuments across Yoruba land in the last 48 hours without any form of resistance from security agencies was evidence that the amalgamation of 1914 between the South and the North has already expired.
In a statement made available after a virtual emergency meeting on Friday morning and signed by the President-General of the group, Emeritus President Banji Akintoye, YWC called on the international communities, especially, the British and American Governments, United Nations, European Union, African Union and the Commonwealth of Nations to, as a matter of urgency, come forward to be part of the renegotiation team to discuss the existence of Nigeria.
We are not at war with Yoruba- Igbo leaders
Similarly, Igbo leaders in Lagos have reacted to the narrative about Igbo being behind the attacks on public and private properties in the state, stating that they are not at war with the Yoruba whom they said are their landlords.
The president of the pan Igbo socio-cultural group, the Ohaneze Indigbo, Lagos State Chapter, Chief Solomon Ogbonna Aguene, described the statement credited to the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, as a political gimmick targeted at causing a tribal war between the Indigbos and the Yorubas.
Aguene said, though the statement had been refuted by Nnamdi Kanu, he wondered what those allegedly behind the statement stand to achieve.
“I charge security agencies to fish out those behind it so as to use them as an example for others who may want to create confusion or tribal war. I assure my Yoruba brothers to disregard the statement. You are our landlords and we have enjoyed living among you,” he said.
Also, the southeast Governors Forum (SEGF) appealed to all ethnic nationalities in the country to continue to maintain mutual peace in the face of recent challenges occasioned by the ongoing #EndSars Protests across the country.
Chairman of the SEGF and Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, who made this known to newsmen in Abakaliki after the Forum’s virtual meeting, condemned in strong terms the recent video clip trending on the social media in which Kanu allegedly made provocative statements on the protests.
Also, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo stoutly condemned the destruction of properties owned by the Yoruba people in Lagos and quickly dissociated itself from the statements credited to the leader of the proscribed IPOB on happenings in Lagos regarding the #EndSARS protests.
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Ohanaeze equally condemned the attempt to trigger an inter-tribal war between Igbo and Yoruba, following the ethnic undertone, mischief-makers have given the genuine protests by the Nigerian youths.
Arewa community count loses
The Arewa Community in the Fabga area of Ifako Ijaye Local Government Area of Lagos said they have lost 17 people to the crisis that erupted during the #EndSARS protest in the Area.
Alhaji Modu Tom the youth leader of cattle traders at Oko-Oba cattle Market said that some protesters attacked seven of their trucks loaded with cattle that were on their way into the cattle market on Tuesday, October 20, 2020.
“The trucks loaded with cattle were stranded due to the protest and when the Lagos State Governor announced the curfew, the drivers tried to find their way into the market so as not to be trapped outside and on their way in the boys protesting attacked them and burnt two trucks conveying cattle and one carrying an empty tank, they also damage five other trucks.
He added that the Sarkin Fulani of the cattle market Alhaji Muhammadu Danmubaffa conducted a peace meeting with some Arewa Community leaders and the entire Arewa people in the market, where he urged them to remain calm and not retaliate to avoid violence. The Arewa leaders also conducted a peace meeting with the leaders of the Yorubas in the Area.
Also, no fewer than 26 people selling onions in Orlu market of Imo state were said to have been rescued to Owerri, the state capital after being attacked by #EndSARS protesters in the state.
The Sarkin Hausawan Owerri, Alhaji Suleiman Ibrahim Suleiman, who confirmed that the protesters also burnt their mosque.
Meanwhile, reports from Aba in Abia state said about 29 trailers were burnt by angry thugs as the result of the protest. Alhaji Salisu Danwanzan, a businessman in Aba Onion Market said
29 trailers out of 50 and 12 other cars, all belonging to northerners were burnt in Aba market. Danwanzan.
NSCIA raises alarm
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has raised the alarm over targeted attacks against Muslims in certain parts of the South-East and South-South of Nigeria with unbridled impunity.
The Chairman, Media Committee of NSCIA, Alhaji Femi Abbas, said on Friday in a statement said that the Central Mosque of Orlu, Imo State, was attacked and burnt down last Wednesday (October 21) with one Muslim worshipper killed, while about four others were injured by the so-called ‘peaceful protesters’.
According to him, those injured are now in hospital receiving treatment with little hope for survival.
Security expert speaks
Speaking on what could be done to contain the spread of hate messages; a security and risk analyst, Kabiru Adamu said the government should ensure some form of presence within the digital space that would allow it to monitor some of these malicious messages.
He noted that there is what is called “Psy-OPS” (Psychological OPS), a kind of operation within the intelligence or warfare paradigm where one is able to counter this type of action by individuals who have the intention of subversion or other forms of national security threat.
He advised that government ensure that security agencies take both physical and counter strategies within the cyberspace to counter the effect such kind of messages.
A senior government official in the security sector of the country, who pleaded not to be named, said that government is already acting on the perpetrators of the mayhem in Lagos and other parts of the country and that some arrests were already made and investigations ongoing.