Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, has described the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, as internal threat that can be handled by federal government.
He said that Nigeria does not require any international help to curb the threat posed by the activities of the secessionist IPOB.
Onyeama told journalists at the UN headquarters in New York that the threat from the self-agitation group would be handled.
According to him, IPOB is different from the Boko Haram terrorists which main aim was to capture territory and to kill innocent people.
“Boko Haram is not an internal threat; it is international threat. When the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it became international threat,” Onyeama said.
“IPOB is as of now an internal threat and Nigeria does not need international assistance to resolve it,” Onyeama said.
The foreign affairs minister said the position of President Muhammadu Buhari was that the Constitution of the country should be respected.
He cautioned that the country’s democracy was still growing and needed to mature and become stronger to handle some of the democratic challenges.
“The important thing we should be focusing on is nation-building using the existing democratic structures,” the minister said.
According to him, the Buhari’s administration does not want to be distracted from achieving its agenda.
“I think that Mr President came and had an agenda for the country and you really just don’t want to be distracted from that agenda.
“The economy, which was in a terrible state when this government came in, went into recession for the first time in decades and we’re just coming out of that recession.
“We want to keep on that path and we believe that a lot of these issues and challenges in the country have their bases in the economics.
“If we can provide a good living standard and quality of life for our people, all these issues (Biafra agitation) will fall by the way side.
“That is why we must not be distracted from transforming the economy of our country. What I’m saying is that we want to focus on the economy.
“We believe if we can get the economy right, a lot of the young people who feel that Nigeria as presently constituted is not addressing their problems, is not giving them the hope, will change their perspective.”
The Minister also said that Nigeria respects free speech, human rights and the rule of law as a free and democratic society.
On the reported military assault on IPOB members, Onyeama said that the Nigerian military respect the ‘rule of engagement’ in carrying out its duties.
He said one of the priorities for the Nigerian delegation at UNGA 72 included strengthening human rights institutions and the rule of law.
He explained that Nigeria was on the Board of the UN Human Rights Council and as such was doing everything necessary to promote human rights.
According to him, the country is also committed to addressing all issues that constitute human rights violations in any forms.