From Maurice Okafor, Enugu
As the indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) goes ahead with its sit-at-home protest today, the warring factions in the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) have taken opposing positions on the rally.
IPOB’s peaceful sit-at-home exercise is to mark the invasion of the family house of the group’s leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, a year ago by security forces.
Since the incident, the whereabouts of Kanu has remained unknown.
The military and the police, which have mobilised to stop the protest, have warned IPOB against going ahead with it.
While the MASSOB faction loyal to Chief Ralph Uwazuruike said that his Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) would not observe the IPOB directive in any part of the South East zone, the Comrade Uchenna Madu-led group has endorsed it.
The Madu group said that it would back all forms of peaceful protest that would enhance the realisation of a sovereign state of Biafra.
The two factions expressed their views in separate press statements on Thursday.
Madu though the Enugu State Co-ordinator of MASSOB, Comrade Dan Onyebuchi, said: “MASSOB under the leadership of Comrade Uchenna Madu is not against the one year remembrance of the invasion of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s family house by the Nigerian military. We view every programme or activities on Biafra as part of refreshing and revival of Biafra actualisation and restoration.
“MASSOB is more concerned and deeply involved in visitations, consultations and unification of all pro-Biafra groups under one coalition and revival of the brotherhood consciousness among the numerous ethnic nationalities that make up the republic of Biafra.
“As part of the anniversary celebration of our 19 years of establishment, MASSOB resolved to embark on prayers, supplications and sober reflections on Biafra actualisation and restoration. We are more resolute and determined for the actualisation and restoration of Biafra in initiating more diplomatic and internationally recognised steps than involving ourselves in frivolous activities that can’t restore Biafra”.
But the Uwazuruike-led MASSOB –BIM said that IPOB is on their own and advised Igbo to ignore the sit-at-home protest today.
A member of the MASSOB-BIM Elders Council, Chief Benjamin Ekwenugo, spoke on behalf of Uwazurike during the commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the group by its Enugu West Zone.
MASSOB-BIM said that the sit-at-home exercise was not what Biafrans needed now and described it as uncalled for.
He said: “IPOB is on its own; what will they achieve with all these their sit-at-home orders? We are coming out today; it is only yesterday that we have an activity in commemoration of Biafra struggle; there is no need to ask people not to come out today.
“I call on Ndigbo to ignore IPOB and go about their businesses, unless someone that has nothing to do. All these sit-at-homes and the rest of them are of no use.
“Today (yesterday), we are rejoicing because we already recorded successes in our Biafra struggle; we are only waiting for the official announcement.
“We are today (yesterday) marking a journey of 19 years; it is not 19 days. Already, we are enjoying Biafra. I recall that when we started, it was almost criminal to mention the name Biafra, but it is no more like that. I was the director for welfare, so, I know what I passed through then”.