Senator representing Imo West Senatorial district at the 9th Nigerian Senate, Rochas Okorocha, has said that he doesn't see members of the Indigenous People of Biafra as terrorists but as poorly educated children.
He made the statement while accusing the government of Imo state of mishandling the security crisis; opining that the proscription of IPOB as terrorists was unnecessary.
Speaking on Thursday, February 3 to State House Correspondents in Abuja immediately after a closed-door meeting with President Buhari, Okorocha said;
“Wherever things are not working well, hold the leadership responsible. I was Governor of Imo state for eight years. And within those eight years, there was absolute peace in that land. IPOB did exist. And all these additional forces existed too.
“It is the poor handling by the state government that exacerbated this to what it is today. If I had remained the Governor of the state at this time, you wouldn’t hear what you’re hearing.
“IPOB are our young men, our sons and daughters, and let no Igbo man tell you otherwise. They believe that they have been marginalised in terms of infrastructure and appointments, and they’ve believed this for a long time. But we’re able to assuage them and give them confidence that things will get better.
“But there was no need to have handled the IPOB matter the way it was handled. In the first place, bringing the Air Force and the Army into the matter. Raiding from the air was wrong and completely wrong. Just as it is also wrong for these young men to have gone to the police headquarters shooting and killing people.
“I don’t support any of them either. Today they have turned out to be terrorists. But for me, I don’t see them as terrorists. I see them as children who have not been properly educated on the happenings.”
Asked if the Federal Government shouldn't have proscribed IPOB, Okorocha responded;
“The activities of IPOB called for that. But it was a needless action to have even started. Something that you can handle and not allow to escalate. If the federal government made them to call them terrorists, it is the state government that made the recommendations and created that image that presented the boys as terrorists.''
His comments come after IPOB warned him on Wednesday to stop using the secessionist group for political campaigns.