by Fredrick Nwabufo,
Concerned Nigerians, a citizen movement, has threatened to sue Ibrahim Idris, inspector-general of police (IGP), at the International Criminal Court (ICC) if any pro-Biafra protester is killed on May 30.
May 30 is the Biafra Remembrance Day, which most Igbo celebrate.
In a statement issued by Jimoh Moshood, police spokesman, on Friday, the IGP directed his men to be strict and firm in dealing with the protesters.
But in a statement issued on Saturday and signed by Deji Adeyanju and John Danfulani, the group described the police chief’s order as an act of provocation.
“Our attention has been drawn to the fact that the inspector-general of police in a statement signed by Jimoh Moshood force public relations Officer has directed all officers in various police commands in Nigeria to deal decisively with IPOB members as they seek to celebrate Biafra Remembrance Day in a series of protests and events,” it said.
“We acknowledge that Biafra Remembrance Day is a historic day for the Igbo and it means a lot to them because they lost so much during the war. We do not see any justification whatsoever for the police to prevent the celebration of Biafra Day. In fact, the attempt by the police to stop the celebration is a provocation in itself.
“The statement by the IGP further urged all police commissioners to be strict and firm in dealing with IPOB members wherever they be found. This directive contravenes the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, freedom of association and freedom of movement as enshrined and guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution.
“Just yesterday, we briefed the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Mrs Fatou Bensouda on the violations of the rights of IPOB members and the killings of over 150 of them by security agents without anybody being brought to book. She has promised that action will be taken and that this process is part of the preliminary investigation into the matter. Since a clear threat has been issued by the Inspector General of Police vowing to deal decisively with the IPOB members, we wish to draw the attention of the Nigerian Police to the fact that Protest is a human right and it must be respected.
“The issues being raised by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Biafran Independence Movement (BIN) and the Movement of the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) are subject of intellectual debate. Nations do not kill their citizens when issues of self determination or referendums are raised, they engage them in an intellectual debate where reasoning and superior arguments prevail as in the case of leave or stay in the UK and Brexit.”
The group called on the pro-Biafra protesters “to be peaceful and law abiding as they exercise their fundamental rights of assembly, movement and protest on Biafra Remembrance Day on May 30. Their approach should remain non-violent resistance even in the face of harassment and intimidation”.
“If any Biafran is killed on May 30, it will be as a result of the directive given to all police commissioners and formations nationwide and we will drag the inspector-general of police to the International Criminal Court,” it added.