by Alexander O. Onukwue
The Nigerian Army has reportedly designated the controversial group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), as a terrorist organisation.
IPOB will now be treated as a militant terrorist group by the army after a statement by the Major-general John Enenche, Director Defence Information (DDI) which restated the commitment of the Armed Forces to confront all security challenges facing the country, per the Guardian.
This comes within the period of increased tension in the South-East where the Nigerian Army are engaged in what they describe as a field training exercise, codenamed ‘Python Dance II’. Altercations over the past week between soldiers and members of the IPOB have been reported, with suspected human rights abuses including rumours of deaths.
The Army alleges that members of the group had made to disrupt the mission by mounting blockades against the movement of the soldiers while pelting them with stones. Other claims made by the Army include the formation of a Biafra Secret Service, the formation of a National Guard, extortion of members of the public by the IPOB and a general propensity for disrupting order by the use of bottles and Molotov cocktails.
In that case, would it be justified to name them a terrorist organisation?
The Army Director’s words were that IPOB is a militant terrorist organisation “from all intent, plan, and purpose as analyzed”, referring to the issues mentioned above. Another one of such events by IPOB was the supposed attempt by one member to snatch a female soldier’s rifle at a military checkpoint on the 12th of September. But does that really sound like what terrorists would do, or is it more like the behaviour of common rogues and bandits?
The Army has not input any deaths, or explosions, or any particular injuries to whole members of the public to IPOB. They do not make bombs or use them, not on the people of their communities or any other. To tag the group as militant is probably appropriate, but terrorism is certainly a different matter.