By Olajide Meseko
The Presidency Wednesday said the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement titled ‘Why Amnesty’s Entreaties Should Be Ignored, By Presidency’.
The statement was in reaction to the last report of Amnesty International on the way security agencies had been handling the IPOB debacle in the South East region.
Garba said despite Amnesty’s “self-proclaimed” mandate to “impartially” transcend borders, the organisation played only domestic politics in Nigeria.
He added that the international NGO was being used as cover for the organisation’s local leaders to pursue their self-interests, saying “This is not uncommon in Africa. There is nothing wrong with an activist stance; there are claims of neutrality, when all facts point to the opposite.”
The presidential aide, who said Amnesty International had no legal right to exist in Nigeria, stated that it must open a formal investigation into the personnel that occupy their Nigerian offices.
“They should reject the outrageously tendentious misinformation they receive and bring some semblance of due diligence to the sources they base their claims on. Currently, we see none.
“The Nigerian government will fight terrorism with all the means at its disposal. We will ignore Amnesty’s rantings, especially when it comes from an organisation that does not hold itself to the same standards it demands of others,” he added.
Part of the statement also read: “Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria is but more of the same.
“Again, they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder.
“Speaking the language of universal human rights, Amnesty International deploys it only in defence – even outright promotion – of those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria. Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences.
“This puts them in bad company. Controversial American lobbyists are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do the same, laundering IPOB’s reputation in Washington DC.
“IPOB murder Nigerian citizens. They kill police officers and military personnel and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country. Were this group in a western country, you would not expect to hear Amnesty’s full-throated defence of their actions.
Instead, there would be silence or mealy-mouthed justification of western governments’ action to check the spread of ‘terrorism.’”
Amnesty International had in its August 5, 2021 said that at least 115 people were killed by security forces in four months in the South East.
Osai Ojigho, Country Director at Amnesty International, said “The evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of ruthless excessive force by Nigerian security forces in Imo, Anambra and Abia states”.
It said Nigeria’s government had responded with a heavy hand to killings and violence widely attributed to the armed group calling itself Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a pro-Biafra movement.
Amnesty International said it carried out an extensive investigation to document the human rights violations and crimes under international law in Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi and Abia states from January 2021, documenting 52 incidents of unlawful killings and 62 cases of arbitrary arrest, ill-treatment and torture.