As the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic is currently raiding the Nigerian Army, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) says it is scaling up pressure for a sovereign state of Biafra through peaceful means, including a referendum.
While the Igbo mass movement said it does not want to declare a state of Biafra by force, and accordingly warned Nigerian security forces to refrain from any harassment or confrontation with it, around 30 Generals have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, barely a week after the death of the General Officer Commanding of 6 Division, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, Maj. Gen. John Irefin, who died of complications from the disease.
This is coming as Director- General of Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, pleaded with Nigerians to stop blaming the Buhari administration and security agencies for not tackling insecurity when they have allegedly failed to secure the cooperation of the citizens especially in intelligence gathering.
According to the secret police chief, Nigerians should give their support to rid the country of all forms of criminality instead of pointing at security forces.
Bichi who was represented by the service’s spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, was speaking at a Security and Emergency Awards (SEMA 2020) event in Abuja, where the service was conferred award by Emergency Digest, a subsidiary of Image Merchants
“We call on Nigerians to support security agencies and government. Security is no longer for government and security agencies. There is need for collaborative efforts and partnership. You continue to stay in your comfort zone and blame security agencies for all, but the information that the security agencies need, have you brought it?
“All those bad people are part of our communities and live in our neighbourhood. If you know one, tell the security agencies about them. If you have not done all these, its time for us to have a rethink, it is time for us to have a change of mind to re-dedicate ourselves to the ideals of building a country that is devoid of any kind of insecurity”, he said.
IPOB Spokesman, Emma Powerful, has however, announced the launch of a regional security outfit, not ‘’a liberation army but a guard in the mould of Amotekun’’ in Western Nigeria, pointing out that the regional security outfit is out to deal with terrorists ‘’rampaging our communities’’.
“IPOB has no plan to forcefully declare Biafra but is rather working hard towards the restoration of Biafra through a referendum in accordance with international laws. We have not floated the Biafra Army but a mere regional security outfit in response to the yearnings of our people.”
Powerful said the outfit will ensure the safety of the forests and farmlands, adding, ‘’the sole aim and objective of this newly formed security outfit known as Eastern Security Network is to halt every criminal activity and terrorist attack on Biafraland.
“This outfit which is a vigilante group like the Amotekun in the Southwest and the Miyetti Allah security outfit will ensure the safety of our forests and farmlands which terrorists have converted into slaughter grounds and rape fields.
“Since the Southeast and Southsouth governors have failed to float a regional security outfit unlike their counterparts in the Southwest despite the worsening insecurity in the country, we have decided not to wait endlessly while our mothers and sisters are continually raped and slaughtered like fowls by terrorists in our land.
“We can’t watch helplessly while those we are agitating to liberate from bondage are gradually being eliminated by terrorists. We, therefore, advise every robber, kidnaper and other criminals to steer clear from Biafra land or brace up for the worst. We must defend Biafra land no matter the price.
“Biafra Security Network personnel will release special phone numbers for people to call whenever there is any case of criminality including kidnapping and robbery activities in the whole of Biafraland. Every resident in Biafraland should use the numbers to report any criminal activity anywhere in Biafraland for a prompt response.
“Fulani herdsmen attack on our mothers and sisters must stop in our land with immediate effect. Unnecessary police brutality on innocent citizens also must stop. Police and Army checkpoints which have since been converted to extortion points should be dismantled’’, IPOB said.
However, the infected military officers are believed to have had contact with the deceased during the Chief of Army Staff’s annual conference 2020, in Abuja, last week.
The conference was cancelled following Irefin’s passage and the participants, including the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi; and GOCs from nearly all the army divisions nationwide, were directed to go on self-isolation.
Following the development, the COAS did not attend the wedding of his son in Abuja on Friday.
Some of the infected Generals and principal officers are being treated at the COVID-19 isolation centre, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
Some of the patients are also being quarantined at other isolation centres in the Federal Capital Territory. The development has sparked panic among top military brass who are yet to take the COVID-19 test.
Nigerian Army Spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sagir Musa, said after Irefin died from COVID-19 complications, the army authorities directed that all who attended the 2020 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference, where Irefin fell sick before he was taken to the hospital, should be tested.
Musa said in a statement that out of 417 personnel who have so far been tested, 26 cases turned out positive, adding, ‘’on the confirmation that Gen Irefin’s COVID19 test was positive on December 9, 2020, the Chief of Army Staff directed the immediate suspension of the conference and all participants were directed to move into self isolation in line with FGN protocols on COVID 19 pandemic.
“Comprehensive testing of all participants commenced immediately. Consequently, as at Sunday the 13th of December 2020, a total of 417 personnel have so far been tested with 26 confirmed positive cases. Currently, all participants are in self isolation irrespective of their results while Nigeria Centre for Disease Control recommended COVID-19 treatment drugs were immediately issued to those that tested positive.”
Equally, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has gone into self-isolation after some members of his household tested positive for COVID-19. He is also the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
In a statement on Sunday, he said, “I would like to inform the general public that some members of my household tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday evening. Although they are currently asymptomatic, they have been isolated and are receiving care in one of the government treatment centres.
“My wife and I tested negative, but will remain in self-isolation and work from home according to protocols by the health authorities. I would like to remind all Nigerians that COVID-19 is real. As the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control announced last week, we are recording an increase in cases across several states.
“Please stay safe and protect yourself. Adhere to all public health and safety measures so that we do not lose the gains we have made in the fight against COVID-19. As a family, we covet your prayers. Please Take Responsibility for yourself and to protect our country!”