The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has denied comparing the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Yoruba nation separatists movements to the terror groups, Boko Haram and ISWAP.
In a statement on Wednesday by his spokesperson, Lanre Lasisi, Mr Gbajabiamila said he meant some “miscreants and criminals are taking advantage of the separationist agitations to carry their activities.”
Newsmen had reported that Mr Gbajabimaila compared separatists in the South (West and East) with the Islamist insurgents due to the latter’s intolerance to “debate and dissenting views.”
Mr Gbajabiamila had in his speech while welcoming back members of the House from their nine weeks holiday, said, “Thus far, we have rightly focused our national security concerns on the machinations of extremist insurgents who seek to remake our world in the image of their discredited theocracy and bandits who maraud and terrorise whole regions for profit.”
“We must now add to these concerns an emerging threat that presents the same clear and present danger. In the South of Nigeria, East and West, miscreants and criminals masquerading as separationist activists have emerged to wreak havoc, take lives and commit economic sabotage against fellow Nigerians and the state.
“These people, in their inclination for devastating violence against fellow citizens, their appetite for the destruction of private property, their disruption of academic activities, commerce, and industry, their propensity for defiling institutions of the state, society and community, their refusal to engage in debate, or to consider the possibility of dissenting opinions and alternative viewpoints, are no different from Boko Haram and ISWAP. Given space and time, they will take our nation down the same path of destruction.”
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) advocates the secession of the Igbo-populated South-east zone while in the South-west zone, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, is leading the agitation for a Yoruba nation.
Mr Lasisi, in the statement, said the Speaker did not mention any group or organisation.
“The Speaker never condemned secessionists or compared them to terrorists.
“As a matter of fact, the Speaker is not alone on the concern about an apparent emergence of a band of miscreants and criminals as different patriotic Nigerians have expressed similar concerns and even condemned the act of maiming, killing, destruction of property and other criminalities perpetrated by the masqueraders.”
The leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, is currently in the custody of the Nigerian government after he was ‘forcefully extradited’ to the country from an undisclosed location, while Mr Adeyemo is presently in Prison detention in the Benin Republic after he was caught in that country fleeing to Germany.