Spokesperson of Nigeria’s president, Garba Shehu on Thursday, insisted that the source of financial lifeline of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, is based in France, despite the French embassy’s denial of the claim.
Mr Shehu, in an interview with the RFI Hausa Radio, said the French authorities may have been unaware of the source of the fund, but the Nigerian agitators have their financial headquarters in France.
On Wednesday, Nigeria’s information minister, Lai Mohammed told reporters that IPOB have their financial headquarters in France, with another financial support coming from within Nigeria.
“We have the records, we know IPOB collects money from many people from Diaspora, they collect money from many people in Nigeria they collect money from some foreign countries, this is clear.
“Let me tell you, the financial headquarters is in France, we know. You have to block the sources of finance that is what I said recently,” Mr Mohammed said on Wednesday.
But the French embassy in Nigeria quickly refuted the claim and denied any knowledge of the allegation.
A statement on Thursday by the embassy’s Political Counselor, Claude Abily, said “The Embassy of France was surprised by the statement made yesterday by the Minister of Information and Culture indicating that the ‘financial headquarters’ of IPOB were in France.
“We don’t have any knowledge of a particular presence of IPOB in France and the Nigerian authorities never got in touch with the Embassy on this point. We stand ready to examine any information which could support this statement.
“Furthermore, we would like to reiterate that France actively cooperates with Nigeria in the field of security and that we strongly support the unity of the country.”
But in his interview with France-funded Radio station this afternoon, Mr Shehu said groups like IPOB normally present themselves to such international financiers are legitimate agitators who need financial support.
He said it might be that the France government itself has no knowledge in the financial support to IPOB, but the Nigerian government believe the group has its financial lifeline from the country.