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Biafra Sit-At-Home : IPOB-MASSOB Supremacy Battle (Read More)



​The supremacy battle between two frontline pro-Biafra groups, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and its forerunner, the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), also known as the Biafra Inde­pendent Movement (BIM), took a new twist following a disagreement over sit-at-home call by the former as a sign of honour to the heroes of the struggle for a sovereign Biafra nation.

Orient Weekend ob­served that shortly after IPOB leadership ordered called for their members, mainly the Igbo – to ab­stain from work and stay indoors on September 14 to commemorate one-year anniversary of the inva­sion of the Afaraukwu home of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as well as honour their [Biafra] fall­en heroes, the Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led MAS­SOB-BIM asked Ndigbo to ignore the sit-at-home order.

MASSOB claim 

Chris Anierobi Mocha, Director of Information, BIM-MASSOB, told Ori­ent Weekend that the Uwazurike-led group was not part of the sit-at-home order because the order would not contribute pos­itively to the struggle nor the lives of the agitating Biafra people.

“The sit-at-home by IPOB has been bastardised and abused. It is unwise to declare a sit-at-home in the month of May this year and declare another one on September 14. It is not reasonable at all and not contribut­ing anything good to the people.

On the MASSOB’s September 13, 2018 Re­membrance Day, Mocha explained that “we are marking our 19 years in the entire South East and South South. So, anything that happens in the past, we know about that. We know that there is a time to remember the fallen heroes.

Mocha dismissed IPOB as a group without any agenda for the emanci­pation of the Igbo na­tion. “We have an agen­da which Chief Ralph Uwazuruike packaged in 75 pages to actualise Biafra. If IPOB had an agenda for the emanci­pation of the Igbo, they would be following it one by one. But they have no agenda and that is lack of purposeful leadership. If they had an agenda, they would not continue to ask for sit-at-home, asking our people to close shops every time.

The MASSOB spokes­man also dismissed claims that Uwazuruike and Kanu were at log­gerheads. “Do you know that Nnamdi Kanu was appointed by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike to head the Radio Biafra? 

He cannot be at loggerheads with his boy”, he said. On Kanu’s disappearance over a year ago, following military crackdown at his country home in Umuahia, Mocha said he was reaping what he sowed. “He is not fight­ing genuinely for Biafra emancipation but rather trying to destroy what we are doing”, he adds.

Similarly, Chief Benja­min Ekwenugo, a mem­ber of the MASSOB-BIM Elders Council in Enugu state, argued that the sit-at-home order call was misplaced and not what Biafrans needed at the moment. 

“What will IPOB achieve with all these their sit-at-home order? I call on Ndigbo to ignore them and go about their businesses, except those who have nothing to do”, he said, stressing that MASSOB-BIM members “are rejoicing because we already have success in our Biafra struggle; we are only waiting for the of­ficial announcement”.

Ekwenugo also argued that the call for restruc­turing of Nigeria being championed by Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other political leaders/stakeholders was a waste of time and ener­gy. “They can’t restructure Biafra for us; we are not Nigerians. Even if they do it tomorrow, it is an exer­cise in futility”.

Fears over rivalry 

Rev. Fr. Christian Umeo­jilinnaka, parish priest of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, Nanka in Anam­bra state, observed that the rivalry between the two pro-Biafra groups had impacted negatively on the agitation for a sover­eign Biafra nation. 

Ac­cording to the priest, the rivalry between the front­line groups had the poten­tial to cause civil unrest, if not nipped in the bud. 

“We should be worried about this unhealthy rivalry. If tomorrow the, federal government sud­denly grants their request for Biafra autonomy, we shall be in the worst situation of something close to civil war between MASSOB and IPOB. That will turn us to a replica of the war-torn state of the South Sudan. 

He stressed that the two groups should move forward with their various ways of agitation since both are aimed towards the emancipation of the Biafrans. “They should focus on what they have in common and not allow their modus operandi to bring about divisions.

Samuel Nnaji, a Jewish leader in Ebonyi state, told this paper that the sit-at-home order by IPOB was in order since it was a time for the members to pay respects to their fallen heroes. He said: “People who want to show solidarity to their broth­ers who lost their lives and want to sit at home should be allowed to do so because that is what they have to do to the deceased. The sit-at-home action will galvanise their support for the struggle.

“It will also show that they are still on the course of the Biafra struggle. And, for me, it will create awareness that the strug­gle for Biafra still exists”, he adds. 

Nnaji, however, lament­ed that the exit of Nnam­di Kanu had impacted negatively on the Biafra struggle. “The absence of Nnamdi Kanu has really affected the struggle. He has been the spokesman of IPOB. The missing of Nnamdi Kanu has psy­chologically affected the struggle but it has not really done much because there are people who are still on the course and they are steering the ship. It has not really stopped the struggle.

Dede Uzor A. Uzor, pres­ident general of Ndigbo Unity Assembly, sees the sit-at-home issue differ­ently. According to him, sit-at-home should not be made compulsory; rather, it should be optional. “It is something that needs to go by freewill. If I decide not to go out, nobody can force me to go out. IPOB should not force people to sit at home.

Uzor stressed that the rivalry between MAS­SOB-BIM and IPOB was needless as both “are … groups fighting for Biafra sovereignty and should not have any clash. If they continue to fight each other, it will give us room to believe that they have ulterior motives which is not to emancipate Bi­afrans. What they should do is to set aside senti­ments and fight for the interest of the ordinary Biafran.”

According to him, the face-off was impacting negatively on the Biafra struggle. “When there are two captains piloting a ship, the tendency is that there will be no orderli­ness. The two leaders or groups should come to the round table and discuss their differences because when two elephants fight, the grass will certainly suffer. The implication now is that the ordinary man is suffering because of their interest which no one can analyse.

Unaddressed killings, persecution

While there is a growing confusion over the direc­tion the Biafra struggle is heading in the wake of unresolved face-off be­tween the two pro-Biafra groups, the unresolved issues of thousands of Biafra agitators that were either murdered, vanished and or held in detention has continued to generate ripples.

An Anambra-based human rights watchdog, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety), recently drew attention to what it termed an attempt by the federal government to wipe out the Igbo race.

Intersociety, in a re­port co-signed by its board chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi and head, civil liberties & rule of law programme, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, alleged that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had imple­mented policies of phys­ical violence, structural violence and cultural vio­lence targeted at innocent and law-abiding people of the south east geopoliti­cal zone over the Biafra struggle.

The report, released on August 22, 2018, cited the incarceration and torture of over 112 Igbo women in the Owerri Prison and whose case collapsed during their magistrate court arraign­ment. The report read in parts: 

“Analysis done by Intersociety on their social and family backgrounds clearly shows that most of them are mothers of young children. Those under this category are between the ages of 22 and 45, numbering 80. Yet their incarceration and torture has attracted little or no attention locally and internationally.

“This is in spite of the fact that they did not commit any felony during their street protest, with no gun or rifle of any kind or IEDs found in their possession or from any of them; except flags and insignia and other faith objects such as bangles, chaplets, bibles, necklac­es, sachets of water, etc. Still they were arrested, detained, tortured and labelled ‘terrorists’ and ‘treasonable felons’; with the world maintaining inexplicable silence of con­gregated and aggregated proportion till date.

It went further: “If it is in the west that these Mothers of the Igbo Na­tion numbering 114 were arrested and treated in such draconian manner, including being cramped in a prison guardroom under such frivolous circumstances, hell would have been let loose. But, right inside there in Ow­erri Prisons, unspeakable global silence greeted their arrest, torture and detention since 17th Au­gust 2018.

“Their family members, especially children and husbands, were turned back and chased away by police and prison officials citing ‘orders from Aso Rock’. The incarcerated mothers were also denied access to food and med­icine brought by their chil­dren and husbands.

“Not minding the atroc­ities trailing the feder­al government’s ‘Army Python Dance 11’ of 2017, including the slaughter­ing, in less than one week, of over 170 unarmed and defenseless citizens in the respective prime ages, as well as terminal maiming of over 130 others, all in Abia state, the present central government has, again, concluded plans to storm the Igbo land in another obvious genocid­al operation code-named ‘Army Python Dance III’,” it adds.

The organisation also accused the federal gov­ernment of creating grave­yards in Anambra, Abia and Delta states through what it termed military and other forms of violent crackdowns targeted at unnamed and defenceless pro-Biafra activists and other members of civilian populations. 

It gave dates of the crackdowns on Biafrans and other civil­ians to include, August 30, 2015; December 2 and 17, 2015; January 29 and February 9, 2016; May 29 and 30, 2016; January 30, 2017 and September 11, 12, 13 and 14, 2017.

“The most atrocious and horrific part of the violent crackdowns were the massacre of 29th and 30th May 2016 during which over 140 defencless citizens were slaughtered, and the Python Dance II of September 2017 in Abia state (Asa, Aba, Isi­ala Ngwa and Umuahia) resulting in the death of no fewer than 180 de­fenceless citizens of Igbo extraction. 

A total of not less than 150 were shot and terminally injured in Anambra and Delta States on 29th and 30th May, 2016 while no fewer than 140 others got same terminal fate in Abia state in September 2017,” it added.

The intersociety said the graveyards were dug at the Asaba airport/ swamp, Onitsha military cantonment cemetery, Nkpor-Umuoji road envi­ronment, Umuahia forest/ Afara-Ukwu palace, Ogwe Ukwa forest and Aba Na­tional High School.

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