MMijovia Opinion || 7th December, 2021
I looked at the members of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) in faraway Ivory Coast sharing gifts to children in the orphanage homes and it caught my attention. I quickly asked myself how on earth can a group branded terrorist group in Nigeria by Nigeria government visit motherless homes and distribute gifts to the needy. It is never done. Terrorists are known for inflicting harm and never to bring smiles on the faces of the people. The smiles in the faces of these little children was so amazing. Speaking in French language, one can hear the children say 'tonto Emeka' which is a respectful way of calling attention of a senior brother. The children calling the IPOB members by their names, shows some level of familiarity. It means that these IPOB members have been visiting motherless homes, reason they can call them by their names.
IPOB members are indigenous people of Biafra, seeking for referendum from Nigeria government to determine whether to remain in Nigeria or become their own nation. Referendum is a right and every people, irrespective of colour have right to it. Not long ago, Scotland demanded for it from Britain and got it. What I don't understand is the reason Nigeria quickly branded such a group terrorist, instead of giving them this right to determine their future. Why is Nigeria so eager to convince the entire world that IPOB is a terrorist group?
The Attorney-General of the Nigeria federation Abubakar Malami in 2017, hurriedly secured a kangaroo order from Federal High Court in Abuja to declare the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as “acts of terrorism and illegality. ” IPOB activities have been nothing than protesting peacefully, wearing Biafra regalia and carrying Biafra flags. This is the acts Nigeria government declared terrorist acts.
Speaking on the terrorist tag against IPOB, Barrister Aloy Ejimakor said the following "The IPOB I defend is NOT a terrorist group. It's also NOT a violent group. It's not a crime to desire a separate country. That's how new nations are created. Terrorist groups don't have fixed & open addresses. IPOB has fixed & open addresses in many countries of the world,” Barrister Alloy Ejimakor. The words of Alloy Ejimakor is not different from the stance of international communities concerning IPOB. Since 2017 Nigeria branded IPOB a terrorist group, no foreign country has taken it seriously. That's because they understand the game Nigeria government is playing. IPOB members are living in many countries of the world, including Britain, USA, Canada and France. None of these countries have branded IPOB a terrorist group. They are working in a reputable organisation and doing their genuine businesses. Efforts to make other countries declare IPOB a terrorist group have not been granted by these countries.
Nigeria is in a desperate position to get countries like USA and Canada to designate IPOB a terrorist group. The irony of it all is that Nigeria government have refused to designate Fulani herdsmen terrorists a terrorist group, even after the entire world declared them the 4th deadliest terrorist group in the world. Nigeria's inability to declare Fulani Herdsmen terrorists a terrorist group is a sign that they are insincere and simply trying to blackmail IPOB. Nigeria government is not ready to brand Fulani herdsmen terrorists that have wiped off Christian villages, raped women and decapitated little kids a terrorist group, but they are seriously using blackmails to brand a flag waving peaceful protesters a terrorist group. Isn't that funny?
Nigeria government have gone to the extent of contracting people to commit terror, only to use the media to rope it into IPOB. Recently, a group went to a first bank in Anambra, and hosted a Biafra flag right in front of the bank. The following day, news broke that suspected IPOB members attempted robbing a bank. It beats common sense for a people to mount their own flag after robbing a bank. Another blackmailing video surfaced in the internet. This time around, a group with human heads claimed they are ESN members. They also claimed that the heads belonged to police men. Again, one might ask, how a group asking for referendum will kill a police man and go on to own it up. The game being played by Nigeria government is very childish and unbelievable.
Until we see Boko Haram members visit orphanage homes and children dancing around asking for gifts, it will continue to be an effort in futility to convince the world to declare IPOB a terrorist group.
Elochukwu Ohagi, Philosopher, Teacher And Activist.