Chris Steven, Abuja
The Igbo for Nigeria Movement, INM, has fingered the outlawed Independent People of Biafra [IPOB] to be responsible for the reports in some quarters that the Medical Outreach of Operation Python Dance II by the Nigerian Army is to plant monkey pox viruses in some children, describing it as another wicked attempt to set Igbo people against the Nigerian Army and other members of the Nigerian State.
Reacting to the development, INM said the circulation of the rumour has portrayed Ndigbo as unthinking and shallow-minded people who cannot differentiate between reality and fiction.
Addressing newsmen on Tuesday on the report, national president of INM, Mazi Ifeanyi Igwe observed that the fact on ground showed that the larger population of the South East are law abiding citizens with very cordial relationship with the military and all security agencies in Nigeria, including the Nigerian Army., adding that only those with criminal intent which the Army has thwarted are pained and out to use anything possible being it outright falsehood or blackmail to discredit the Army.
He said, “We want to appeal to Ndigbo to decisively deal with the IPoB problem as it has been established that this criminal lies emanated from the terror group. Even as the damage is unfolding, Emma Powerful, the supposed spokesperson of IPoB continues to make inflammatory remarks, which were sadly reported by some mainstream media that ignored the fact that his group is a designated terror organization.
“Unfortunately, IPoB is laying the groundworks to kill and destroy more Igbo people than any security agency could have ever done even if they had mounted a coordinated genocidal campaign against the southeast geo-political zone. This is a concern that is backed up by logic:
“The IPoB lies has practically shut down schools. Emma Powerful asked teachers and pupils to stay at home until Operation Python Dance II leaves the southeast. This is going to disrupt education calendar in Igbo areas and this will leave our students at disadvantage since the other parts of the country would not pause their calendar for the southeast. Since Operation Python Dance is now poised to be an annual event are we going to be shutting down our school every year while other regions make progress?
“Should Monkey Pox evolve into an epidemic that requires mass vaccination the lies and rumours that have spread like wildfire will prevent people from accepting life saving inoculations and treatment. This could cause casualty on a catastrophic scale. Let us be reminded that some parts of the country only a few weeks ago have to get vaccinated for cholera. The vaccines were shipped and conveyed by people in the South that included Igbo yet persons of northern ethnicities that received the vaccines did not wrongly accuse or fear the Igbo even at a time IPoB’s hate speech was at its vilest. The lies have set up our people to die needlessly should there be a national health emergency.
“While IPoB’s lies may serve its immediate propaganda goal, it will create a new generation of vaccine deniers in the long term. We only need to take a cue from the impact of the anti-vaccines movements in the United States; they rely on the kind of rumours being spread in Nigeria now to push their agenda but the impact of the follies is being felt by way of resurfacing of diseases that the US had once eradicate while children are dying needlessly. Unless something is urgently done we are at risk of babies dying while those that survive would do so with the ravages of diseases like polio that vaccines could have easily dealt with. We will also bear the burden of staring afresh to roll back any eradicated disease that resurfaces as a result.
“If our Hausa-Fulani brothers or any other ethnic group for that matter are resolute on decimating the Igbo as Emma Powerful is lying they will easily achieve that by tampering with our food sources since Nigeria’s food chain is heavily interconnected. The southeast does not produce all the meat, fish, grains and tubers it consumes and these are items that can be tampered with or bioengineered to deliver pestilence. It is therefore unkind to accuse others of what we are incapable of,” he added.
Igwe called on state and federal governments to take immediate steps to stop further propagation of the lies by getting legal interpretation on IPoB’s continuing capacity to issue statements as an already-labeled terror group.
He said, “The court order that designated IPoB as a terror group also outlawed its activities which leaves us at a loss of why a terrorist under the name of Emma Powerful continues to freely operate with the group’s name without being arrested. He should be immediately arrested.
“Our hope is that the Nigerian Army would remain on standby with its Operation Python Dance II Medical Outreach to cater for those in need of medical attention once the lies making the rounds have been properly exposed.”