The fate of the leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, rests with the Federal Government, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai has said.
The final decision whether or not to arrest Kanu is to be made by the government, Buratai told journalists on the sideline of the opening ceremony of the combined second and third quarter, Chief of Army Staff conference, 2017.
He said: "As regards the proscription, the Federal government will take a final decision on that. There are guidelines as provided in the anti-terrorism act.
"I'm sure the relevant government agencies will take appropriate steps whether to arrest, or whether to do any other actions, and we will receive the appropriate directives from the authorities."
Asked if the army would withdraw troops from the South East as demanded by the governors of the region, Buratai said the Army would continue with Exercise Python Dance in accordance with constitutional provisions.
"You should understand the context in which the Nigerian Army is operating. Nigerian Army is part of the political consideration in the democratic system."
"It is part of the democratic process, it is a product of the democratic governance, you know the military, we are not receiving any pressure."
He added: "There are several provisions that give us those responsibilities and also to carry out such task as duly assigned by the government or by the constituted authority. Be rest assured that we don't have any other role that is outside the constitution."
Earlier in his opening remarks on the conference, Buratai noted that Nigeria's geo-strategic influence is increasingly being threatened by non-state actors.
He said non-state actors are becoming more audacious and showing greater capabilities to engage state forces in near conventional scenarios.
He said the Army is saddled with the task of developing a mix of capabilities that can counter a wide spectrum of threats.
He said, for example that the tactics and approach to the war against Boko Haram terrorists are being re-appraised to address issues of mobility in the desert terrain and cover a wide area of the theatre. Buratai said he introduced the Mobile Brigade to operate as Mobile Strike Teams (MSTs) in order to dominate the entire theatre of operation and deny Boko Haram members freedom of action.
He added that the Motor Cycle Battalion is a new innovation with powerful motorcycles to outpace Boko Haram Terrorists during pursuits in difficult terrains.
He also said the Bama initiative is being launched for the Nigeria Army to train 3,000 personnel of the Police and Civil Defence Corps that would be deployed for security of Bama and its environs.
He said the arrangement would relief troops from security duties in Bama Local Government Area and enable them face Boko Haram in the hinter lands.
Declaring IPOB as terrorists illegal - Saraki
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has declared as unconstitutional and illegal the categorisation of IPOB as a terrorist organization.
In a statement he personally signed yesterday, Saraki said the National Assembly will investigate the matter.
"I wish to state that the announcement of the proscription of the group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) by Governors of the South-east states and the categorization of the group as a 'terrorist organisation' by the Nigerian military are unconstitutional and does not follow due process.
"Our laws make clear provisions for taking such actions and without the due process being followed, such declaration cannot have effect. I am sure the President will do the needful by initiating the right process. The Senate president who said the crisis in the geopolitical zone will not benefit anybody said it would only expose innocent people to unwarranted danger.
"At this point, Nigerians outside the South-east who have worked to ensure that the crisis does not spread to other parts of the country deserve our commendation. I therefore call for continued efforts to sustain peace, unity and stability in all our communities so as to ensure that all residents, no matter their religion, tribe and creed remain protected and safe under the law.
"It is also important that commentators and purveyors of information on all media platforms should be conscious of the need, at all times, to maintain the unity of the country. Therefore, they must refrain from circulating information that has the potential for aggravating the crisis," he said.
Commending the military for their efforts in restoring peace in different parts of the country, he said in the face of provocation, the military should allow themselves to be guided by their training which emphasizes respect for human rights, even in war.
"Also, giving the nature of this particular situation, the military has every reason to be hesitant in the use of force. Also, it is my view that we should not over-stretch the military," he said.
He reiterated the need for all leaders of thought - political, religious and traditional - to continue to engage with the masses on the need to maintain peace and be our brothers' keepers.
Buratai reacts over senate statement on IPOB
Buratai said the defence headquarters' statement categorising IPOB as terrorist organisation was a pronouncement.
He spoke yesterday in Abakaliki the Ebonyi state capital where he flagged off operation Python dance aka Egwu-Eke in the state.
Lt. Gen. Buratai said what the defence headquarters did was to create public awareness over the unconstitutional activities of the group in South east.
"Let us get it right; what the defence headquarters said was a pronouncement and not a declaration as the case may be in line with its duty to protection lives, properties and the sovereignty of the nation",he said.
Northern govs visit South-east, South-south
As part of efforts to douse tension and promote peace and dialogue among all sections of the country, a delegation from the Northern Governors Forum is to pay a visit to the South East and South-south geo-political zones of the country.
This is contained in a statement signed Governor Aminu Tambuwal's spokesman, Malam Imam Imam.
"The team, to be led by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shattima, will have Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi and Simon Lalong of Plateau State," the statement said.
It added that the delegation would hold meetings with their counterparts in Rivers, Abia and Imo states.
"Apart from the visit to political leaderships in those states, the delegation is expected to meet with traditional and religious leaders. They will also confer with northerners resident in those states," it added.
The statement added that the delegation would reassure their counterparts in the South-south and South-east that all Nigerians are free to stay in all parts of the country, especially in the North, and that the entire North stands with the people of the South-east in this period of heightened tension.
The visit has the blessing of President Muhammadu Buhari, it stated.
The Northern governors, while in Abia, applauded the various security measures and initiatives put in place by the governors of the South East zone.
Shettima commended the leadership displayed by the Abia Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu at a time of crises.
He said "We have a moral obligation as leaders and governors to ensure the country remains one indivisible entity."
Responding, Governor Ikpeazu said the coming of the northern governors will stabilize the peace currently enjoyed in the state.
They also visited Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike and commended him for taking urgent steps that led to the protection of Nigerians living in the state.
'IPOB deceiving int'l community with fake videos' The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is using fake videos of mass killings from other parts of Africa to mislead the international community, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this when he addressed Online Publishers in Lagos yesterday, said the fake videos were doctored to look current so as to win sympathy.
A statement by the minister's aide SegunAdeyemi said "Such videos, which have very high emotive quotient, are circulating on the Social Media as we speak. These videos are doctored to make them look current. They are fake!"
The minister said the group is writing to the governments and parliaments of some western nations to give the impression that they are victims of an ethno-sectarian violence orchestrated by the government, hence they need protection.
He said some ill-informed foreign individuals are already trumpeting IPOB's lies and propaganda and even alleging genocide.
"It is either they do not understand the meaning of genocide or are being mischievous. Either way, there is nothing like genocide anywhere in our country today. What we have in the South-east is a clampdown on a band of lawless people who have no regard for the laws of the land," he said.
He appealed to the Online Publishers to help counter the fake narrative on the Social Media on the situation in the South-east.
He reiterated his earlier statement that IPOB was being sponsored by a coalition of politically-disgruntled and treasury looters, and that the organization is a contraption against the Buhari Administration.
Kwankwaso seeks military intervention, dialogue
Former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (APC, Kano), has advocated for the combination of military intervention and dialogue in addressing the crisis in the South East created by IPOB.
In an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Sunday, Kwankwaso said dialogue remained the key to calming the chaotic situation, but stressed that military presence was also necessary.
The former governor appealed to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and 43 other political parties in the country to bury their differences and unite against insecurity in the country. He also called on the federal government to diversify the nation's economy, create jobs and mobilise all citizens to participate fully in nation building.
The former governor also appealed to elder statesmen, traditional rulers and religious leaders across the country to play key roles in ending insecurity in the north and southern parts of the country.