There has been a sustained campaign of arson on government buildings and killing of police officers in the south-east and parts of south-south since the turn of the year.
“The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has recruited over 50,000 foot soldiers, as it were, into its Eastern Security Network (ESN) and stockpiled arms, most of which were stolen from police armoury during the End SARS protests,” a security operative told TheCable.
“They have been bringing in arms through Cameroon in partnership with the Ambazonia Governing Council, the separatist movement in Southern Cameroon. IPOB sends at least 2,000 men and women to Cameroon for training on weapon handling every week.”
In a recorded tape, two people described as “top commanders of ESN” were heard discussing issues such as surveillance of INEC offices, militants wounded in previous attacks, operations of IPOB camps, doctors treating wounded colleagues, installation of CCTV camera at their training camps in Udi, Emene and Nsukka and how to attack police cells.
“This is warfare,” the security operative added.
IPOB has denied being violent in its separatist campaign, but it has also said it assembles arms and ammunition locally.
Nigeria is expecting delivery of some military equipment, including fighter jets, from the US this month.
TheCable understands that police operations have also been rejigged in the south-east ahead of the offensive, with three deputy commissioners of police and squadrons of anti-riot police being deployed per state.
Making reference to the Civil War of 1967-1970 when the declaration of Biafra was resisted by the Nigerian government, Buhari said he was going to be very hard to restore peace.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand. We are going to be very hard sooner than later,” he added.
Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour, has hinted at the impending security offensive, tweeting on Tuesday: “I hope some elites who couldn’t find their voices to rein in their wards when their region burnt, will not suddenly find their voices against Mr. President! Those who screamed that it’s Mr. President’s duty to maintain law & order should NOT try to teach him how to do his job now.”