The indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has lambasted Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, over his claim that those agitating for Biafra and Oduduwa republics are miscreants akin to the Boko Haram sect terrorising the country.
Gumi had in a recent interview with BBC said the majority of Nigerians desire unity as against secession, describing those clamouring for secession as miscreants.
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He had said, "Look, let's forget these useless youths. They're no more different from these herdsmen. These people agitating for Oduduwa, Biafra or Arewa are all the same group of people with Boko Haram.
"Majority of Nigerians want to stay with Nigeria. And if they are in doubt, let’s make a referendum... So, all these youths that are making noise, whether Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram, Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB and their Oduduwa counterpart, they are just a tiny minority of Nigerians using ethnic, archaic and retrogressive sentiments to destabilise the nation."
But in a statement issued by its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB alleged that such statements confirm that Gumi is one of the "hardened supporters of Fulani terrorism".
The group questioned the ease at which the cleric got bandits to surrender their weapons before the government.
It warned that the IPOB should not be compared to the Boko Haram terrorist group.
According to the group, IPOB is after self-determination which is a constitutionally guaranteed right while Boko Haram is a terrorist organisation committing crimes.
The statement partly read, "We, the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), under the leadership of our great leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, read with incredulity a provocative remark credited to a filthy looking so-called acclaimed Islamic cleric in the mould of Sheikh Gumi that bandits and freedom fighters are the same.
"Gumi in the said media report, allegedly compared agitators of Biafra and Oduduwa republics with his Fulani bandits rampaging the North and ravaging the entire South. Such a statement if true, has simply unmasked and exposed the real identity of this man masquerading as an Islamic cleric when in actual fact he is one of the hardened supporters of Fulani terrorism.
"With such ignorance-laden utterance from a supposed Islamic scholar, the world does not need to look far for the real sponsors of banditry and terrorism in Nigeria. We now know those behind the killing spree and evil agenda to decimate indigenous ethnic populations and non-Muslim communities across Nigeria.
"Before now, Nigerians were deceived into believing that bandits and other agents of terror on rampage all over Nigeria were invisible and without a fixed address. How come this pretender and self-acclaimed Islamic cleric knew where to find the bandits? He even posed for a picture with gun-wielding murderers and was very proud of it.
"How was it that this man managed to locate the hideout of these mass murderers but the Nigeria Air Force cannot? How come there hasn't been any invasion or bombing of any these bandits’ settlements in the North but the same Nigeria Air Force was quick to deploy fighter jets to be terrorising innocent citizens in Orlu?
"Not only did Sheikh Gumi wine and dine with their bandits, he has also suddenly become their advocate. He has gone to the extent of comparing blood suckers with self-determination activists. What a national embarrassment!
"In his warped mind, Sheikh Gumi can no longer differentiate between self-determination, which is a constitutionally guaranteed right and terrorism which is a crime. This hypocrisy has confirmed our earlier position that terrorism and banditry in Nigeria are common agenda of the caliphate."
IPOB further described Gumi's statement as an insult to freedom fighters all over the world. including Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of Scotland.
"Other ethnic groups and nationalities may fall or capitulate before the hegemonic might of the Fulani caliphate in Nigeria but not those of us from the East,” the statement said.
SaharaReporters, New York