Amid the widespread criticism that has followed the recent attack of Senator Ike Ekweremadu in Germany by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the subsequent threat issued by Nnamdi Kanu to attack Nigerians living in the Diaspora and those that are equally traveling from Nigeria, there has been a massive call for the Federal Government to ignite the process of repatriating IPOB members overseas.

In a special report commissioned by this medium to gauge the mood of Nigerians across the country on ways the federal government should handle the IPOB threat, the bulk of those interviewed suggested repatriation and the withdrawal of the Nigerian passports for all IPOB members in the Diaspora.

In the South East, there appears to be quite a strong level of discontentment with the actions of IPOB in recent times. Some of those interviewed believed that IPOB by their activity has brought shame to the Igbo Nation and as such the federal government should begin the process of liaising with countries where IPOB members are present to repatriate them back to Nigeria.

Mazi Sam Mbakwe, a traditional ruler in one of the autonomous communities in Orlu-Ohafia, stated that Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB members are ignorant of the significance of the New Yam festival hence their unruly behaviour.

“It is quite an abomination for there to be any form of a skirmish during the celebration of New Yam festival and for Nnamdi Kanu and his ragtag boys to choose such as auspicious occasion to exhibited their foolishness, is quite ironic.” He stated.

He further added that is high time for the federal government to take a tough stance of the activities of IPOB in the overall interest of Nigeria and the Igbo race.

“IPOB does not, in any way, represent the very ideals of the Igbo race. It is more of a contraption of individuals who saw a window to exploit for monetary gains and have so decided to do the exploitation to the fullest. The federal government must jettison the kid-glove approach and put an end to this issue once and for all before it gets out of hand.”

Similarly, the youths of Afaraukwu community in Umuahia, Abia State, the same community as Nnamdi Kanu condemned the actions of IPOB describing it as an abomination and a recipe for conflict in the future. The leader of the youth group Ifeanyi Dike believed that since Nnamdi Kanu started his IPOB adventure, the community has witnessed a series of unpleasant scenarios.

“We the youths of Afaraukwu community are not in support of what Nnamdi Kanu is doing with his group members called IPOB. We are not known to be violent people, and as such, his actions of late is an embarrassment to our community, and this has seen to an increase in unpleasant scenarios in the past two years.”

It was also gathered that there had been plans by some leaders in southeast Nigeria to pressurize the British government to repatriate Nnamdi Kanu and other members of IPOB in the UK back to Nigeria.

In southwest Nigeria, scores of people have expressed reservations on the activities of IPOB outside the shores of Nigeria, and they opined that repatriation would serve as the best option available for Nigeria as it stands. This sentiment was premised on the fact that Nnamdi Kanu jumped bail in Nigeria and must be brought back to answer to charges filed against him in the court.

According to Prof Kayode Komolafe of the Department of International Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, he stated that the best bet for the federal government is to do a profiling of IPOB members in US, UK, Canada, and other countries and submit such to the foreign missions in these countries for an onward repatriation to Nigeria.

“What Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB have succeeded in doing was to drag the image of Nigeria in the mud in the international community, and no serious country in the world would watch as its citizens constitute a nuisance in other countries. What the federal government should do is to ensure that those involved in all of these acts are repatriated back to the country with immediate effect.”

He also stated that another potent way for the federal government to see to the actualization of this was to cancel the Nigerian passports in possession of IPOB members in these countries.

“The Federal Government should cancel the Nigerian passport in their possession, and that would make the repatriation process easier as they would be left with no choice but to either behave themselves or return home.”

This position was corroborated by a high ranking member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). He stated that Nigeria has the right to issue as well as withdraw its passport from any individual that cannot guarantee the country good behaviours as worthy ambassadors.

“IPOB has by their actions indicated that they do not have regards for the constituted authorities in Nigeria and as such, there is no moral justification for them to bear the Nigerian passports in their sojourn. The relevant authorities must see to the fact that these individuals are stripped of their citizenship status by withdrawing the passport in their possession.”

In the Northern part of Nigeria, the same sentiment was expressed from a cross-section of people drawn from academia, the civil society as well as students. Professor Isa Bogoro of the Department of International Law and Diplomacy of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria stated that IPOB by all standard is a group devoted to tarnishing the image of Nigeria, but there is a caveat, which is the fact that they are operating outside the shores of Nigeria.

“IPOB is presently operating outside the shores of Nigeria, and there is little that the Nigerian Authorities can do as it stands. The only option is to seek ways the government of these countries can repatriate these individuals back to Nigeria before the law can take its course.”

The posture of the repatriation of IPOB members from overseas is more pronounced among young people whose opinion were sampled. They argued that the federal government must bring the IPOB members to Nigeria to face justice for their nefarious ways.

The call for the repatriation was also echoed by a coalition of civil society organization under the auspices of Network for Good Governance. The group stated that the federal government must, as a matter of urgency, seek ways it can repatriate IPOB members abroad.
The coalition of civil society organization believed that if this is done, the activities of IPOB would be nipped in the bud and Nigerians in the Diaspora, and those traveling abroad would feel safe and secured.

“IPOB members abroad needs to be repatriated to Nigeria as soon as possible. This much is necessary because as it stands, the group has constituted itself into a nuisance and have caused untold embarrassment to Nigeria. The only face-saving measure left for Nigeria is the repatriation option as it stands.”

In a related development, IPOB as a group has been involved with a couple of activities recently that have raised an eyebrow on its primary motive. In some quarters, it is being speculated that IPB receives external support from some interest that wants the disintegration of Nigeria. A top security source confirmed this much. He stated that IPOB gets its funding from external sources, and it might be difficult for the federal government to track this source as their operations are covert.

“The best option for the federal government is to seek ways it can repatriate members of IPOB overseas, and by doing that, it would cut their source of funding.”

Adeniyi wrote from the United States of America.