The Presidency on Sunday said it has uncovered an ongoing plot by the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB to set the country against some of its allies such as the US, UK and the European Union.
The Presidency said this while alerting Nigerians and the international community of the move it described as a most misleading campaign wherein the group uses false allegations of persecution of Christians against the Nigerian State.
The Presidency said this in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu and made available to Newsmen on Sunday.
It claimed that a very deep and wide investigation carried out by one of the agencies of the Nigerian government, working with international partners, has drawn its attention to two interconnected campaigns being concurrently run by the pro-Biafra group.
The statement said that “Both [campaigns] are using the cover of Christianity – and calling for a US Special Envoy to be appointed to stop the “genocide” of Christians in Nigeria.”
According to the Presidency, the real purpose of this campaign was to drive a wedge between the Nigerian government and its US and UK/European allies.
It said that Nnamdi Kanu only claims to have an interest in Christians for reasons of convenience, adding that the IPOB leader believes that his struggle for Independence is strengthened by ‘proving’ the government of Nigeria is ‘autocratic’, engaged in a ‘silent slaughter’ of its own citizens along religious and ethnic lines.
The Presidency called on Nigerians and the international community to be wary of this divisive campaign by the IPOB and its leader, which, according to available evidence, has been “funded monthly with $85,000 since October 2019, with no records of the source of this largesse.”
“The campaign consists of producing articles in the names of the alleged Christian NGOs’ leaders (of campaign groups created at the time this PR contract with a US lobbying firm was signed) and letters to and from members of Congress to the White House,” the statement added.
It said unfortunately the IPOB has succeeded in persuading some members of Congress to believe that there is indeed a ‘Christian persecution’ underway in Nigeria “and they are known to be taking up the case directly with the White House to appoint the special envoy.”
“The American charity secured a meeting with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and has made presentations to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom,” the Presidency said.
It further alleged that the same campaign is also going on in the UK and Europe.
“They have founded an ‘NGO/Charity’ and a linked web-based campaign named ‘Stop the Silent Slaughter’ which is well designed and complete with video “evidence”-completely concocted,” the statement claimed.
“Members of the alleged Christian NGO have had multiple Op-Ed articles in conservative news websites promulgating their message of a ‘Christian Genocide’. Some of those articles have also been used as ‘evidence’ in the sister US campaign.
“Two of those conservative news websites were co-founded by the owner of the UK PR firm they have hired to generate their publicity as well as an OP-Ed article in the name of a British MP who may have been convinced by their campaign under false pretenses.”
Garba Shehu explained further that the IPOB has secured additional coverage in France, EU, and Germany.
“They secured an MPs debate on the ‘Christian Genocide’ in the House of Commons in which staff member of the UK PR was referenced as the ‘private secretary’ to the leader of the UK-based Charity,” it said.
The Presidency said it was clear that IPOB’s extraordinarily and dubiously well-funded campaign in the US and UK and Europe was misusing the issue of the welfare of Christians purely to further their own political ends.
He said the group is seeking to damage inter-religious dialogue in Nigeria as well as to damage the international reputation of Nigeria.
“Nigerians and the international community are hereby advised to ignore this campaign as they have disregarded similar past campaigns originated by this group which has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian State,” it added.