Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, has frowned at Federal Government’s declaration of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist organisation.
Onaiyekan wondered the impunity with which the government ignored “armed, lethal, murderous and vicious” Fulani herdsmen to label members of IPOB as terrorists.
While condemning IPOB`s approach to Biafra agitation, the cleric however said “the title of terrorists should not just be thrown” unsystematically at the group.
“My understanding of a terrorist is a deadly armed activist. I don’t think, merely speaking or talking or threatening will add up to being a terrorist. I believe it is a mistake, it was overdone and I fear that a lot of people outside Nigeria will find it difficult to agree with us in this matter. It will create a bad image for us,” Onaiyekan told Premium Times.
“The impression it creates is like you give a dog a bad name so as to deal with it. If you want to deal with IPOB, I believe that even the military show-down is a bad approach. Because there is the need to address the grievances of those boys.
“Even though I do not agree with what the boys are doing and the way they are doing it. Nnamdi Kanu’s advisers should have warned him to calm down and not be stupid by thinking that he can confront the Nigerian army. The method he is using will not achieve any objective. Up till now, we have not seen any confrontation since the declaration; and that supports my claim that they are not terrorists.
“If we reduce the courts to a body that just confirms whatever aspirations that government has, then the judiciary will not be seen as independent. The title of terrorists should not just be thrown at anybody. And there is a danger that if we continue this way, it may become more and more difficult for us to arrive at a peaceful solution.
“The Fulani herdsmen who are armed, lethal, murderous, vicious and have been killing people in our communities; they are the ones that we are waiting for, to see what the government will do. If you recall, the Bishops’ conference called on the government to treat them as terrorists,” he said.