Former Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for illegally executing Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) members for agitating for a sovereign Biafran state.
Though belonging to the same ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Okorocha did not hesitate to describe the president’s action as wrong. He also excoriated his successor, Governor Hope Uzodimma, for failing to handle the IPOB crisis well.
“There was absolutely no need to have handled the IPOB matter the way it was handled. Bringing the air force and the army into the matter, raiding from the air was wrong,” said Mr Okorocha after meeting Mr Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
In 2017, Mr Buhari’s regime proscribed IPOB, declaring the secessionist group terrorist after Nigerian soldiers killed over 150 unarmed protesting members of the group.
Speaking on the atrocities committed against IPOB members, Amnesty International noted that the Nigerian security forces, led by the military, embarked on a “chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence resulting in the deaths of at least 150” peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in the South-East.
He added, “Asking the air force to take (a) fighter jet to go to war in my senatorial district Orlu was wrong. Just as it is also wrong for these young men to be shooting and killing people.”
“Approach and handling was the problem. Today, they have turned out to be terrorists. But for me, I don’t see them as terrorists. I see them as children who have not been properly educated on the happenings,” explained the ex-Imo governor. “On the insecurity in the South, I always say to be people, when things are not working well, hold the leader responsible.”
He pointed out that for the eight years he was the governor of Imo, “there was peace in that land.”
“The IPOB did exist,” he claimed. “It is about the poor handling by the state government. The IPOB gentlemen are our young men. They are our children who believe the Nigerians nation does not like them.”