By Rafiu Ajakaye
Nigeria on Monday rejected international criticism of its decision to declare the Igbo secessionist movement as a terrorist group, saying it was an "internal matter".
Okoi Obono-Obla, presidential assistant on prosecution, said that the secessionist Indigenous People of Biafra's (IPOB) alleged attacks on security officials and citizens had resulted in the decision.
"I have previously said that the international community should not meddle in our internal affairs because doing that will amount to an erosion of our sovereignty,” he said.
The statement followed media reports about the U.S. and EU saying the group could not be declared a terrorist organization under their laws.
Last week, France also denied financing the group.
“The EU has no business in our internal matters so if the EU says it does not see IPOB as a terrorist group, it does not matter as far as Nigeria is concerned,” the statement added.
“The U.S. may say IPOB is not a terrorist organization by U.S. law because it is a registered business concern in the state of California.”
Last week, Nigeria declared the movement was a terrorist group after its members clashed with troops in the mainly ethnic Igbo southeastern region.
The group has denied being violent and rejected the terrorism tag, pledging to challenge a court ruling that sanctioned the government's action.
The group says it wants an independent homeland for the Igbo, Nigeria’s third biggest ethnic group, but its leader Nnamdi Kanu is loathed for his use of derogatory words against other tribes and his threats of violence.
A similar Igbo secessionist bid had been aborted in a 30-month civil war of 1967 in which over two millions had died.