Mijovia Opinion, 6th Oct, 2021.
I am a school teacher and Activist. My name is Elochukwu Nicholas Ohagi. I am a victim of Nigeria. At the age of 9, I was accosted by two Nigeria Mobile Police officers at Urualla. I was shouted upon to stop. I have just returned from boarding school for the mid term break. 'Are you a Biafran one of them shouted at me. Quickly, I retorted with another question. 'Is there a country within a country?' When they couldn't answer I left them in their confusion.
It was then I started questioning older people around me about Biafra and what it means to be a Biafran.
I was told stories of wars and massacres. Stories that made me shiver. In 1966, after the coup carried out by the Nigeria military, a pogrom was carried out on the Igbo people. More than 50, 000 Igbo people and other Easterners were massacred and their bodies littered in the streets of Northern Nigeria.
When the Igbo people couldn't take it any more, the survivors headed down East and the crisis continued. An attempt was made by the then Ghana president in the January of 1966 to bring back peace to the two groups. Unfortunately, the then Nigeria leader, General Yakubu Gowon refused to implement the agreement reached in Aburi Ghana. This led to the declaration of the Republic of Biafra, a decision taken by Odumegwu Ojukwu to safeguard Easterners whom have been killed in thousands by the Northern military and mob.
The world deserted Biafra in that war. Due to lack of social media in those days, Biafrans whom are victims were declared 'Rebels' and villains, a term championed by British Broadcasting Cooperation, due to British economic interest in Nigeria. The oil in Nigeria is domicile in Biafra, and Britain sees Nigeria as their colony. Britain feared to deal directly with Biafrans, the real owner of the resources. So, they project the North, led by the Fulani to take charge over Nigeria.
More than 3.5 million Biafrans died in that war, as Nigeria and their international allies never cared about rules of engagement. Hospitals, refugee camps, churches, markets and farm lands were all bombed on daily basis by Nigeria government. Our children suffered Kwashiorkor due to lack of protein and salt, and more than 2 million Biafra children perished.
I was born many years after that barbaric war, but Nigeria police men still see a 9 year old as a Biafran. I didn't see that war, neither did I witness that war, but I was treated as if I fought that war. There are many Igbo youths that never witnessed the war, yet they suffer from the Nigeria government economic blockage of the east. In the East there is zero federal government presence. No working sea ports, no good federal roads and no military universities. Top government officials in Nigeria still describe us as Biafra boys. Many years after the war, I am still being questioned if I am a Biafran.
Owing to what I have seen and witnessed as a school teacher and activist living in Nigeria, I can say that I am still in shock after reading an article written by Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan, an American, and published in Washington Times asking American Government to designate indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a foreign terrorist organization. He didn't stop there, he went further to exonerate the Fulani herdsmen of every atrocities they are committing in Nigeria, presenting them as victims in Nigeria.
To start with, IPOB is not just an organization. IPOB is the PEOPLE. And what is IPOB asking and demanding for? IPOB is demanding for a referendum to determine their faith. Self determination is a fundamental human right and it is bounding in the United Nations. IPOB members have been killed by Nigeria military since 2015 for simply conducting peaceful protest. An unarmed group that are only protesting with Biafra flags and Biafra insignias were gunned down by Nigeria Military.
Numerous attacks by Nigeria government against IPOB are well documented. Amnesty International reported the numerous killing of IPOB peaceful protesters in Nigeria's South East Region. Group of young men praying in a High school in Aba where gunned down by security forces. Same has happened in Onitsha, Nkpor, Obigbo and Emene, all in South East. A brutal attack was staged in IPOB leader's home in Afaraukwu Ibeku on 14th September, 2017 by Nigeria government. An attack that killed 29 people, including a pet dog. All these attacks are verifiable.
Apart from the killings done by Nigeria security operatives, Fulani herdsmen terrorists are also another group that have been terrorising Easterners. They carry Ak47 around, Kill farmers and rape women. They have attacked South Eastern States of Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu countlessly without the government doing or saying anything. Till this very day, no Fulani herdsmen terrorists is in prison or undergoing trial for killing people and wiping off villages, while IPOB members are killed and imprisoned.
IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu whom Nigeria government abducted in Kenya and rendition to Nigeria formed ESN to defend the people from the deadly Fulani herdsmen terrorists attacks. Since the formation of ESN, Easterners can go to farm without being killed in their own farms. Is Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan trying to tell us that self defense is now a crime? Should the indigenous people Of Biafra give their necks to Fulani herdsmen terrorists to be slit? What actually do he want from the people of Biafra?
The demands of IPOB is a genuine one. Instead of asking America government to designate IPOB as a terrorist organisation, why not ask the American government to give the over 50 million Biafrans a chance to determine where they truly want to be through a UN supervised referendum. Is that not the right thing to do? Is that not the way to achieve lasting peace? Is that not the only civilized route to save lives and properties? Didn't Britain offer same referendum to Scottish people when they demanded to leave? Is referendum not the reason Britain left European Union?
It is indeed time for American government to look into the plight of Biafrans and come to their aid. It is near impossible to designate more than 50 million people as terrorists. What Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan is asking for is for the United States Of America to designate all Indigenous people of Biafra as terrorists. He is saying that Biafrans in America, Canada, Australia and in Biafra land should be tagged terrorists. Tell me who does that.
For the fact that Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan depicted Fulani herdsmen terrorists as victims in Nigeria shows how bias he is. I am forced to ask if he was paid to write that article.
Just this month alone, more than 50 people have been killed by the same Fulani herdsmen terrorists in Christian dominated Southern Kaduna, without anyone being brought to book. This is exactly the wish of Professor Ivan Sascha Sheehan for Biafrans. To be slaughtered like the people of Southern Kaduna without any form of defence.
You might not understand what we go through in Nigeria. The abduction, killing and corruption going on. You might not understand that as activists we are an endangered species.
The insistence of the Biafra people on referendum for Biafra is the only reason this American professor wants IPOB designed a terrorist organisation.
Elochukwu Ohagi is a Philosopher, Teacher And Activist.