MASSOB counters Buhari, sure of UN referendum on Biafra
MOVEMENT for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), yesterday disagreed with President Muhammadu Buhari over his statement that Nigeria was indivisible, describing it as his ‘personal opinion.’
The Movement also boasted that the United Nations (UN) would conduct a referendum for Biafrans to decide on the popularity and acceptance of their cause. The group took a swipe at the military’s decision to quell pro-Biafra protests, just as the South East governors enjoined the protesters to tow the line of peace.
But the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of Nigerian Army, Enugu, Brig-General Ibrahim Attahiru yesterday re-emphasised the warning against insecurity which the Division issued on Monday to pro-Biafra protesters. “Agitators should know that there is a certain borderline they should not cross,” he said.
Briefing journalists yesterday in his office on the activities of pro-Biafran demonstrators across cities in the South East and South South zones, the GOC stressed that as a reminder, the Nigerian Army would like to send an unequivocal warning to all and sundry, more especially to “all those threatening and agitating for the dismemberment of the country, committing treasonable felony and arson, as well as wanton destruction of lives and property, that once deployed, the Nigerian Army shall apply the Rules of Engagement (RoE) to the letter in order for peace to prevail.”
However, in a bid to douse the anxiety and end the demonstrations in the South East, occasioned by MASSOB and the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), the Forum of South East Governors yesterday called for an expanded meeting of stakeholders in the zone before reaching a decision.
The emergency meeting, which is in furtherance of the forum’s meeting yesterday in Enugu, is scheduled for on Sunday, November 22, same place. Expected at the meeting are National Assembly members, ministers and other invited stakeholders from the zone.
At the end of the rescheduled meeting at the Enugu State Government House, the governors also called on “MASSOB and IPOB to continue to tow the line of peace as this is the only way to ensure economic development of the zone.”
In what is regarded as its first meeting in Enugu in the new dispensation, the governors expressed concern on the state of the roads in the zone and security.
The meeting, chaired by the Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, in its three-point communique read by the governor, resolved to “appoint a high level economic advisory committee to harness the economic potential of the people of the South East working together.
The acting GOC said the recent increase in the pro-Biafra agitations in some parts of the South East and South South zones of the country by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other similar groups was becoming worrisome.
“In cities like Aba, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Abakaliki and Enugu among others, cases of outright lawlessness, threat to lives and properties have been recorded during demonstrations and protests by these groups,” he said.
In a related development, there are indications that the battle to secure the release of the leader of IPOB Nnamdi Kanu has entered a new phase as the group’s directors world wide have engaged the services of renowned lawyers to tackle the Federal Government.
By court records, Kanu has a return date of November 18, 2015 for the Department of State Services (DSS) to show cause why it should not be charged for contempt.
In a statement by MASSOB’s National Director of Information, Comrade Uchenna Madu, in Abakaliki, the group noted that the President can never openly agree to anything that will affect the oneness of ‘his Nigeria,’ adding that the people of Eastern region will decide that.
According to Madu, Buhari should not bother himself about ethnic nationalities, who have decided to leave Nigeria, as it is the people of Eastern region that will decide that.
His words: “Buhari should not bother himself about ethnic nationalities who have decided to leave Nigeria, even his people. The Arewas are earnestly willing to opt out because Nigeria, in the real existence, favours no ethnicity but only the cabals, politicians and high profile personalities
“Biafranism is deeply rooted in the consciousness of every Igbo man and major ethnic groups in the South South. The Biafra referendum that will be conducted by the United Nations (UN) will testify to our popularity and acceptance by Biafrans.”
On the Nigerian Army’s decision to hit Biafra protesters, Madu said: “The Military should not heat up the polity, your threat is very wrong signal to Nigeria because the current Biafra is heavily rooted outside Nigeria. We shall remain non-violent in our pursuit for Biafra,” he said.
The Guardian gathered that the decision to hire senior advocates and other reputable human rights lawyers overseas followed a letter by Kanu’s legal representative, Mr. Vincent Egechukwu Obette, in which he declared that “the coming week would be crucial in the struggle to free Kanu” as, according to him, the Federal Government plans to vary the charges against the self determination activist.
Part of the letter exclusively sighted by The Guardian read: “I am also writing to sound a note of warning that the coming week will be crucial in the legal struggle to protect, defend and secure the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu hence I request for collective support from all and sundry.
“I have had access to him twice amid difficulties; I compelled the Department of State Services (DSS) to allow him speak to his wife after her prolonged cries; I secured the surety and perfected his bail conditions; I took his family members to visit him in detention in Abuja; I have had series of meetings with the Embassies of the U.S., the Russia Federation, Spain, Israel and Britain who later visited him last week.”
While disclosing that he was at the moment working with Amnesty International “in documenting series of extra-judicial killings perpetrated by the Nigeria security agents in the last three weeks for transmission to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the legal representative stressed the need for expanded collaboration.
“The Guardian further gathered that peeved by international concern for the safety of Kanu and growing apprehensions about the human rights records of the present administration in U.S., the Federal Government was planning to slam treason charges on Kanu to justify his long detention without trial.
High-ranking security personnel confided in The Guardian that part of the reason for assigning the Foreign Affairs portfolio to a candidate from Southeast was to perforate the argument of persecution and ethnic vendetta against the Igbo so as to douse the anger of the international community.
“Government is not happy about the dust being raised by this IPOB protests in the international community. It is like some countries that felt outraged by Mr. President’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly about the Palestinian question are interested in ballooning the domestic matter into a diplomatic headache for the government,” the source added.