The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Monday evening, stated that the Defence Headquarters did not fully declare the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, a terrorist organisation.
The Defence Headquarters had on Friday announced the declaration of the group as a terrorist organisation after its members clashed repeatedly with soldiers in Abia State following the launch of Operation Python Dance II in the South-east.
Governors of the region also proscribed the group. But the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, criticised both declarations arguing that the military and governors lack the powers to take such actions.
Many lawyers also told newsmen that the military declaraton was illegal as it did not follow the processes outlined in the terrorism act, although some other lawyers disagreed.
Reacting to a question from journalists on Mr. Saraki’s statement on Monday, during the official launch of Operation Python Dance II in Abakaliki, the army chief explained that what the Defence Headquarters did was make a pronouncement on IPOB.
He added that the statement of the military gave room for the right steps to be taken for the formal declaration of the group as a terrorist organisation.
According to Mr. Buratai, the action of the federal government concerning IPOB was right and the military did not overstep its bound towards the protection of lives and properties in the country.
“You have to get it very clear. First of all, what the Defence Headquarters did was to make pronouncement. It wasn’t a declaration per se. But this has given room for the right step to be taken. I think the government is doing the right thing.
“It is not that we are overstepping our bounds. We are still within the limits. And I ensure you that what the military said was to set the ball rolling and to bring the awareness to the public that this is what this organisation is all about.”
Mr. Buratai, a lieutenant general, also gave an indication that the federal government has quietly followed the legal process by getting a court order to legalise such declarations.
“I’m happy that the government has done the right thing right now,” he said.
Mr. Buratai further assured the people of the South-east that the Army will abide by the rule of law and rules of engagement in carrying out its operation which kicked off on Saturday in the region.