The Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, made a vigorous defense of the murderous separatist group, the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), with an insistence that ‘they are not terrorists’. The argument rankles with evidence of the group’s arbitrary killings and a violently-enforced weekly ‘sit-at-home’ movement restriction in which armed members of the gang deny residents of the eastern region their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of movement.
Obi, whose campaign has been energized by the propaganda wing of the proscribed terror group, made the defense on an edition of Politics Today hosted by Seun Okinbaloye of Channels Television.
In the exchange now making the rounds on social media, the former Anambra governor argued passionately that “IPOB members are not terrorists, I stay and live with them. Some of them are even civil.” He disagreed the with the proscription of the group and its association with terror, despite months of wanton killings and destruction.
Obi’s defense of IPOB has triggered a gale of criticism from Nigerians in other parts of the country and strengthened suspicion of those who regard him as ‘an ethnic champion’ who primarily sees Nigeria as a collection of two groups: my people and others.
Suleiman Dantata reacted to the video saying “for me, this confirms my suspicion all along that Obi and IPOB are on the same mission. For a man who has never directly condemned the group to come and say they are not terrorists despite many evidence of members of the group murdering innocent civilians, including helpless northerners, then he is complicit in their criminal actions and is merely seeking the presidency to fulfill their desire to divide the country.”
Shehu Idirisu who also spoke to PODIUM REPORTERS said, “I suspect the reason Obi made that bizarre argument in defense of IPOB was because he thought they were only killing northerners. Because in his eyes, we are not humans. As Governor, he deported us. When an armed gang raided our trade stalls and destroyed our goods, he had no words of comfort or basic sympathy. He made it clear to us that we were not welcome and if we stayed, our rights will not be protected. He is a tribal lord and this is why he will never preside over this country.”
Other Nigerians have also questioned the motive of Obi’s defense of the group, given the growing complaints of easterners themselves over the terror campaign of IPOB. Many easterners are trapped in Lagos and other parts of the country, unable to return to their birth states over fear that IPOB could subject them to deadly attacks or withdraw their rights over unfounded allegations of being ‘saboteurs’ in its self-created war with the Nigerian state.