Several days after, the protests ignited by the agitation for the unconditional release of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, continue to gather momentum, sweeping through the South East and parts of the South-South like a hurricane. The protesters are irked by the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu by the Department of Security Services, DSS, even after an Abuja Municipal Magistrate Court at Wuse Zone 2 had granted him bail.
Although it started as a peaceful demonstration, but within few hours after its commencement, one of the protesters was shot dead by a local vigilante operative attached to Ochanja market, Onitsha, Anambra State.
A source said the deceased who was harassing some shop owners to close their shop or face the wrath of the IPOB ignored several verbal and gun shot warnings by the operatives before he was shot dead.
Yet, other sources said on sighting the protesters, the vigilante operative opened fire on them and shot the deceased dead on the spot, adding that even some policemen and soldiers on duty with the vigilante operative blamed him for the action.
Currently, the protest appeared to have recorded its biggest success in the commercial city of Onitsha and other parts of Anambra State as traders and other members of the public continue to demonstrate solidarity with the protesters.
During the demonstration, the IPOB members gathered at the Bridge-head end of Onitsha from where they spread to other parts of the commercial city and proceeded to Awka, the state capital through Nkpor, Ogidi, Umunnachi, Abagana, Enugwu-Ukwu, Amawbia and Awka and as they patrol on foot, the police and other security agencies monitored them curiously.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the protests, especially its link to demand for the resurrection of the defunct Republic of Biafra. Among those who reacted over the development were the Igbo Youths Forum, IYF, Concerned Eastern Youths Initiatives, CEYI, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, among others.
The Campaign for Democracy, CD, in its own reaction, called on the Federal Government to release Kanu because a court of competent jurisdiction had already granted him bail and as such, his continued detention amounted to extra-judicial action.
CD’s South East Zonal Chairman, Uzor A. Uzor, reminded the Federal Government of the need to be a respecter of law and not a violator of law, adding that the violation of the court order was capable of setting a bad precedence in future.
Intersociety, in its own statement, said: “Many factors have made agitation for Biafra statehood loud and unquenchable. Chief among them is continued institutiona-lisation of triggers of divided society and inability and unwillingness of past and present governments in Nigeria, particularly the Buhari administration to bind, heal and run an all inclusive or pluralistic government”.
Intersociety’s statement signed by its Chairman, Board of Directors, Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi, further declared: “Divisions abound deeply in the country, day in day out.
Lopsidedness also abounds in all the appointments so far made by Buhari administration. The federal public and civil service appointments and promotions are deeply lopsided and there are no signs of addressing them; rather there are signs of deepening them thickening everyday. In all, there are entrenched structural imbalances, injustices and violence in every aspect of the Nigerian polity.
“Totality of these is extensively responsible for the increased agitation for Biafran Statehood; this is more so when the agitators are the worst victims. The gravest mistake of the 2015 presidential poll was the emergence and resurgence of fanatics of divided society who are unrepentant promoters of ethnocentrism and primordialism,” the statement added.
“It is on all these premise that agitation for Biafran homeland is built. As for whether the struggle will materialise, there are internationally established processes of struggle for self-determination, particularly those involving non-violence. Of the two newest independent countries of East Timor and South Sudan, one was gotten violently and the other non-violently. South Sudan got hers after 30 years of bloody civil war with mother Sudan, and East Timor got hers non-violently from Indonesia and after many years of non-violent struggle powered by dictatorial governing styles of the government of Muhammed Suharto.
“The first stage of the non-violent struggle for self determination or statehood is awareness campaigns and local and international pressures and the last stage is organisation by UNO of a referendum for the agitating party and if the majority vote for self-government, then the new statehood is born. Countries have, in history, negotiated and re-negotiated their instruments of existence and togetherness and some have voted to live apart (i.e. Czech & Slovakia) and others to live together (i.e. United Germany). Former Soviet Union got divided non-violently into 15 Republics in 1991, and Yugoslavia violently divided into six Republics between 1995 and 2001.”
In their own reaction, the Concerned Eastern Youths Initiatives, CEYI, cautioned IPOB members and other pro-Biafra groups against attending a recent meeting convened by Governor Rochas Okorocha in Owerri, the Imo State capital. Coordinator of CEYI, Emma Powerful said: “IPOB protests will continue until they release Nnamdi Kanu unconditionally”.
Describing the exercise as legitimate, a legal practitioner based in Onitsha and Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Idemili branch, Ben Okoko, said the right to protest by the IPOB members is guaranteed under the Constitution of Nigeria, adding that if truth must be told, the agitation is predicated on marginalisation.
According to Okoko: “If there is justice and equity in sharing our natural resources, the struggle will cease. Resources are not shared commensurately according to revenues generated from the South East and South-South zones of the country”.
He however cautioned against poor coordination of the agitation, adding that its legitimacy should not be abused with violence and criminal tendencies. He also charged security agencies to see themselves as unbiased umpires and as such should not harass, molest or attack the protesters, but rather monitor them and ensure that they did not misbehave.
He advised our elected officers like Governors, National and State Assembly members and other political appointees to tread with caution to avoid either committing treason or attracting the wrath of the agitators because, according to him, having been elected under the Nigerian Constitution, if they openly support the agitators, it would amount to treason and if they support the government in attacking the agitators, they might risk their houses being torched or even their lives being threatened.
President of Igbo Youths Forum, IYF, Anunihu Uzor, noted that traders supported the agitation to the extent that most of them closed their shops, while some of them even joined in the demonstration because there is no motorable road in the entire South East region, neither are there Federal Government presence in the zone.
Anunihu noted that if government had addressed these issues squarely instead of arresting, detaining and refusing to release Nnamdi Kanu in defiance of court order, there would have been no need to agitate for Biafra restoration, not to talk of embarking on the demonstration exercise.
Also in his own reaction entitled: “Biafra is on course!!!”, Comrade Peter Okala, Former Governorship Candidate of the National Conscience Party, NCP in Anambra State and President- General of Ndigbo United Assembly, NUA, declared: “My take on the Biafran agitation is positive in the sense that our colonial masters knew our differences to have made a contract of one 100 years known as amalgamation for us to try if we could understand ourselves, but the fact remained that till date, the centre could not hold and the South is still hated with passion by our Northern and Western brothers”.
According to Okala: “Today if one is asked to name 100 most corrupt people in Nigeria who have stolen our treasury dry, hardly will an Igbo man be among them. But we are abused in every part of Nigeria as people who could do anything to get money. Reason? Because the West is in control of the media and the North has partnered with them to marginalise the South East.
“ I advocate a peaceful agitation to achieve Biafra because the North and West are going to become our close neigbours when our prayers are answered. The present structure of lesser states in the South East which amounted to lesser number of legislators and local government councils are some of the glaring evidences of marginalisation of our zone.
“It is worthy of note that the present administration is encouraging the secession of every group by their unpopular policies and programmes, a government that has no listening ears to protests and popular agitations by its own citizens could not be said to have a human face.
“The arrest and continued detention of a non-violent agitator is a promotion to that course and Nigeria is the one promoting the agitation by the unprofessional use of security agents against the agitators, which means that Nigeria is the one promoting lawlessness by working against the United Nations declaration on human rights which she is a signatory to.”
Leader of Movement for Outright Discontinuation of the Exploitation and Annihilation of Easterners, MODEAE, Comrade Arinze Awogu, in his own statement entitled: “Death and its harbingers have ceased to frighten Biafrans: The True Leader of Biafran people has finally emerged”, noted that “as the Biafra protest rages, it is good that we remind ourselves the purpose of this quest; what we are struggling to safeguard and why we are so determined to continue to fight for the release of Nnamdi Kanu and the restoration of the independence of Biafra”.
“We have borne the brunt of this quest, we have suffered marginalisation, deprivation, ostracisation and all manner of conceivable deaths in the hands of an enemy that is so cruel, that is so wicked and that has used all manners of weapons to not only cage us as a people and stop us from developing at our own pace-keeping us in a state of arrested development, but has without respite hounded us into detention and daily murdering us for daring to ask for our freedom.
“But today we rise up to recite before the enemy the portion of the Biafran Anthem that says: ‘if the price be death that we owe to pay, so let us all die without any shred of fear’. Death and its harbingers have ceased to frighten us; they no longer condition our thoughts. We have opted for death instead. Life is now meaningless to us. We consider ourselves dead already and as such we are not afraid of dying for he that is on the ground is no longer afraid of falling. This protest must go on. It is a battle of homeland and we are putting in our all
In a slogan titled: ‘Release Lord Nnamdi Kanu Now! And Give Us Biafra Or We All Die’, Awogu declared:”Give us Biafra or we all die is the expression on the lips of everyone; from Bayelsa to Cross-River, from Akwa-Ibom to Rivers to Delta to Anambra to Imo to Abia to Ebonyi to Enugu to parts of Edo, to parts of Kogi, to parts of Benue and to parts of Southern Cameroon, the frenzy is rapturous, it is electrifying, it is a moving train, nothing stands on its wake.
“In the words of George Orwell: ‘…if liberty means anything at all, it means the ability to tell people what they do not what to hear.’ President Buhari and his likes must continue to be inundated with the Biafra nightmare that is Biafra restoration.The extra-judicially detained Director of Radio Biafra, whom we now choose to refer to and call Lord Nnamdi Kanu has proven to be the spark-plug for an idea whose time has indeed come. He has galvanised Biafrans the world over while in detention far more than he was able to do before his arrest through the IPOB. Across the globe, the Biafran spirit and the longing for Biafra is more than ever before revived.
“The Afarukwu-Ibekwu-Umuahia-born Lord Nnamdi Kanu, a Prince from a Royal family, floated Radio Biafra out of nothing to generate lots of waves across the world which makes restoration of Biafra a catch phrase among Biafrans and enemies of Biafra alike. The second phase of the march to Biafra restoration no doubt threw up characters that at some point showed traces of the kind of leaders needed to steer the ship of the Biafra struggle to a safe dock.
“But many had found reason to doubt and question the sincerity of the lot save for Lord Nnamdi Kanu whose blistering campaign for Biafra in less than three years has gotten global appeal with a style that is so so irresistible and captivating. He has gradually become a darling and the most sought after Biafran campaigner worldwide with many fearing that the accolade might get into his head and make him drift away like others before him by the time he regains his freedom. But he had already in anticipation sworn with his son and household never to betray the trust placed on him by the Biafran people.
“Born in the thick of the genocidal war waged against his Biafran people, Lord Nnamdi Kanu had unapologetically affirmed that the ‘zoo’ referred to as Nigeria only exists today because the White Europeans said so, insisting that it was not created by God the natural way all nations on earth came into existence. But rather was conceived in the heart of man to serve a purpose for which nation states were not and could not be designed for. …
“He is the humble servant of the good people of Biafra and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Biafra. As a servant of the Biafran people, he has remained a dutiful worker for the Biafran cause and a vicarious pride and source of inspiration to new generation of Biafrans who see in him the bulwark that will crystalize the independence of Biafra.
“The White man has a way of distinguishing a special breed that achieved a special feat in extraordinary circumstances from others. The Director of Radio Biafra should have the toga of’Lord’ to his name, for in detention as in freedom, he has brought the people closer to Biafra. The ongoing protest would have achieved its main objectives with the unconditional release of Lord Nnamdi Kanu and Biafran independence restored; and will not stop save these two are met; anything other than these two, the protest has to continue unabated with a renewed vigour”.
…Ohaneze, Igbo statesmen in consultation
INDICATIONS emerged yesterday that the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation and some elder statesmen of Igbo extraction have embarked on consultation to come up with a common voice on how to handle the ongoing protests across the country by the Indigenous People of Biafra.
A source close the both camps told Vanguard Features that Ohaneze ought to have called for an end to the protests, but some Igbo elder statesmen are of the opinion that issues that provoked the protests are germane.
It was gathered given the sensitivity of the matter, the apex group has commenced consultations with prominent Igbo leaders on how to have a common stand on the issue.
According to the source: ‘’Ohaneze and some statesmen in Igbo land are being circumspect. But I can tell you that they are trying to be on the same page on this sensitive matter. The good thing is that both want the country restructured in line with the recommendations of the Confab. The South-East deserves an equitable share in this country, but as things are today, the zone is obviously marginalised. That is what those boys are protesting for. They want a country where every region will be treated fairly. I can assure you that Ndigbo, will speak with one voice on the issue in a matter of days.”
Further findings, showed that the leaders are not on same ground on the matter, as they differ on whether to condemn the ongoing protests, for fear of not incurring the wrath of the protesters.
Credit to Vanguard
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