The leadership of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), and other groups, describe the sit-at-home order declared by IPOB as a huge success, and a clear manifestation of the people’s desire for Biafra’s re-birth, writes MIKE UBANI.
Not many people thought that the May 30 sit-at-home order declared by the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), and supported by its parent body, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), would be complied with by most residents of former Eastern region.
This is because of the disappearance of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. since September 14, 2017, following the alleged invasion of his home in Afara Ukwu, Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, by the Nigerian Army.
Also, the schism in the leadership of MASSOB had led not a few to conclude that the observance of this year’s sit-at-home order, unlike the previous once, would be uninspiring.
Indeed, pro-Biafra groups had over the years, ordered the people of the defunct Eastern region to sit-at-home every May 30, to commemorate the declaration on May 30, 1967, of the former region as the Republic of Biafra, by General Odumegwu Ojukwu, son of a multi-billionnaire business man.
This cessation from Nigeria as it were, later resulted to a 30-month excruciating civil war, which according to the United Nations claimed the lives of two million people of former Eastern region, especially women and children.
The sit-at-home order on every May 30 – according to the leadership of both IPOP and MASSOB – is necessary to enable the people of the defunct Eastern region, celebrate the declaration of the former region as a republic, and also mourn all those who lost their lives in the cause of the civil war.
But successive leaders of Nigeria’s central government had repeatedly treated pro-Biafra organizations as ‘terrorists’ groups engaged in acts of rebellion against the country, and had expectedly clamped down on the activities of these groups.
According to reports, violence erupted in some parts of South-East zone on May 30, 2018, as security personnel embarked on massive onslaught on Biafra agitators who organized various activities to mark the Biafra Day.
For instance, one suspected Biafra agitator was allegedly killed by security operatives in the commercial city of Nnewi, Anambra State, while another died from a stray bullet in yet another commercial city of Aba, Abia State.
Furthermore, there were reports of massive arrests of pro-Biafra agitators and their leaders by security operatives in Enugu, the Enugu State capital.
The AUTHORITY learned that despite the security onslaught on pro-Biafra agitators, the sit-at-home order was largely observed in the South-East, albeit with partial observation in cities such as Owerri, and Umuahia, capitals of Imo and Abia respectively.
For instance in Aba, our Correspondent reports that “major markets such as Ariaria International Market, Eke Oha (Shopping Centre), Eziukwu Market and Ahia Ohuru all had their entrance gates and line gates opened by market union leaders.
“But traders, shop owners and buyers deserted the markets even as in some smaller markets like school Road Market, Saint Michaels Road Phone Accessories Market, Ehi Road Market, Ngwa Road Market, Nsulu Market and Akwette Streets Markets, were also without activities.”
The apparent adherence to the sit-at-home order according to some groups in the region, clearly demonstrates the people’s desire for self-determination
For instance, in a joint statement signed by Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, founder, Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), and Secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), and Chief Mrs. Maria Okwor, Leader, Igbo Women Assembly (IWA), and made available to The AUTHORITY, the groups said the success recorded in this year’s sit-at-home had clearly shown to the world the determination of the people of the former Eastern region to support the Biafra cause.
According to the statement: “Our people have spoken with one voice in completely paralyzing our region by staying at home yesterday (May 30) in demonstration to the world, where we stand. Despite intimidations, harassment and threats from certain quarters, our people resolutely stayed indoors yesterday.
“We commend our people, for standing on the truth. This is particularly interesting, because, in spite of the spirited effort by government apparatchik to pervert the truth through inducement and blackmail.
“We congratulate the people of Eastern Nigeria, as government- owned media reported 100% compliance in Aba, Nnewi, Onitsha, etc. and over 70% compliance in other areas. the people have spoken.
“One year ago, after another successful sit-at-home, some people issued quit notice, mounted pressure, which led to unprovoked attack at Afaraukwu, in active connivance with collaborators, to kill innocent souls, whose only crime is that they have lost faith in Nigeria as currently constituted and, therefore, seek freedom from relentless oppression by a ruthless oppressor who proudly value cattle over human life.
“Again yesterday, our people demonstrated in no uncertain terms that we are completely tired of unitary Nigeria. If a referendum were to be conducted today, it is clear that the old Eastern region would vote 95% out of this hellish country.
“Yesterday’s successful sit-at-home is a quasi referendum on where the people’s soul and spirit lie. The result is too clear for even the blind to see.
“Again, this development confirms that the pseudo leaders of our region who have paraded themselves as ”Leaders” for years have finally lost it. They have just become leaders without followers. This is also an affirmation that no amount of operation cobra jump or operation viper fly can subvert the will of the people.
“We commend the leadership of the most oppressed and most persecuted mass movement in the world, for their patience, tolerance, endurance and ability to lead, direct and guide the masses of Eastern Nigeria with humility and determination, in spite of the provocation of a clearly clueless oppressor.
“An oppressor who has exhausted every brutal strategy, including slaughtering thousands of unarmed agitators in cold blood, just to sustain an unworkable unitary structure, by fire, by force.
“For our pseudo leaders, we advise, they reconnect with this mass movement for their own good. Proscribing the most popular and most powerful critical mass in the region, does not really make sense.
“Especially, now that everybody knows, that they, the so called leaders cannot meet anywhere in the land without the help and protection of armored cars, fighter jets and military helicopters. The narrative that the agitators are a small, troublesome and violent group has been permanently destroyed yesterday.
“And the truth, which is that they proudly live in the hearts of the masses, has been roundly reaffirmed in a most dramatic manner.
“It is idiotic for anybody to continue to dwell in falsehood. The people spoke so loudly yesterday by staying indoors. Their message reverberated all over the world….
In a statement signed by Comrade Emma Powerful, IPOB media and publicity secretary, and made available to The AUTHORITY, the group thanked members of the organization for heeding to the sit-at-home order, saying that their compliance implies obedience to the group rather than the governors of South-East geopolitical zone.
The statement reads in part: “The family members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) worldwide wish to congratulate all Biafrans and lovers of freedom all over Biafraland and various parts of Southern Nigeria who contributed immensely towards the successful outcome of our heroes remembrance day by sitting at home as directed by the leadership of IPOB.
“We salute the uncommon courage, determination and resoluteness of all Biafrans that defied the military threats, intimidation from Arewa Consultative Forum and South-East governors to sit-at-home across the length and breadth of Biafraland.
“We commend the people of Ogoni, Idoma, Igede, Igala and others who afforded to observe and remember those that sacrificed their lives for us to be alive today.
“From Ogoja in the east to the border town of Igbanke in the west; from Oturkpo in the north to the island of Bonny in the south, Biafrans observed in their own unique way a day of solemnity, reverence and respect for our departed heroes.
“Pictures and video evidence abound to lend incontrovertible credence to the fact that Biafraland obeyed IPOB sit-at-home order on May 30, 2018.
“We also salute the indefatigable spirit of IPOB family members in the diaspora that rallied in over 100 countries across Europe, Asia, America, Australia, South America and Africa. From the rising of the sun in the east to its setting in the west, all over the world, Biafra resonated like never before.
“If one thing became clearer as a result of this 2018 sit-at-home, it is the fact that people listen to IPOB, not South-East governors or Ohaneze Ndigbo.”
Comrade Uchenna Madu, leader of MASSOB, told The AUTHORITY in a telephone interview that the onslaught on pro-Biafra groups by security agents would not deter their determination to continue the struggle for the resuscitation of the defunct Biafra.
“We’ll not be deterred. We shall remain resolute in the struggle for the resuscitation of Biafra, despite the onslaught on our people by security men,” he said.
He described the people’s compliance with the sit-at-home order, and their full participation in all the activities to mark the Biafra’s 51st anniversary as “a sign that our people desire and want Biafra.”
He pledged that MASSOB would continue the struggle to revalidate Biafra through non-violent means.
On January 15, 1970, the Biafra leadership surrendered to the Federal Military Government then led by General Yakubu Gowon, thus ending the 30-month bloody war, which started on July 6, 1967.
Will Biafra be revived? Only time will tell.