By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Paul Wallace
- Buhari signs proscription declaration Before New York trip
- Tension rises in Nigeria’s southeast over secession demands
The Nigerian Federal High court ordered the banning of a group campaigning for an independent state of Biafra in the nation’s southeastern region and designated it as a terrorist organization, the ruling All Progressives Congress party said late Wednesday in a post on Twitter.
The court issued the order in Abuja, the capital, after the attorney general submitted an application following a proclamation by President Muhammadu Buhari before his departure to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“Before the president left, he approved the proscription” of the Indigenous People of Biafra, known as Ipob, Information minister Lai Mohammed told reporters in Abuja on Wednesday.
Tensions in southeastern Nigeria have escalated in recent weeks with Ipob leader Nnamdi Kanu threatening to disrupt state elections unless there’s a vote on secession. A bid to establish an independent state of Biafra sparked a 1967-70 civil war that claimed more than a million lives.
A military spokesman described Ipob as a “militant terrorist organization” last week after clashes between some of its supporters and troops left several dead and injured. Governors of five states where the group is active jointly announced its proscription.
Ipob’s operation is funded by “some foreign countries” as well as supporters in Nigeria and abroad, Mohammed said, adding that the group’s “financial headquarters” is in France, without giving details. Nigeria is using diplomatic channels to try and stop the broadcasts of London-based Biafra Radio, which has been calling for independence, he said.