Ndiigbo: Before Uwazuruike Dies
Written by Odimegwu Onwumere
Once enemy can do anything to malign him or her, the enemy can sell any disinformation to the
public in making sure he or she brings to the end of the enemy. That is the disinformation yours truly
have been observing that is being sold against the leader of the Movement for the Sovereign State of
Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, since its formation in 1999.
Many people, Ndiigbo not excluded, had thought that Uwazuruike would not go this far, in his
agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra, because the issue of Biafra and Biafrans in Nigeria was
like the issue of Osu-caste system in ala-Igbo, after the formation of the Republic of Biafra in 1967,
which was the outcome of the pogrom targeted against Ndiigbo in the Northern part of Nigeria, which
plunged Nigerian into a 30 month civil war.
After that war, which led to the destruction of lives and property, the issue of Biafra became sacred
that anybody who discusses Biafra in the newspapers or on the radio stood a chance of being
persecuted by the Nigerian government. But luck has come the way of Biafrans in Nigeria since
Uwazuruike broke that jinx by his establishment of MASSOB, which has been gaining prominence in
not only foreign media, as usual after that war, but also in the Nigerian media and even sometimes
discussed in the people's parliament: in the newsstands and buses without minding if the person by
the side is a Nigerian security operative or not.
Uwazuruike faced and is still facing a lot of setback in the hand of the Nigerian government, which
has often incarcerated him in the many obsolete prisons Nigerian government proud it has. On Oct.
26 2007, Uwazuruike was acquitted from the prison of a treason charge after spending 3 years in the
prison, and on condition that he should go and bury his late mother, who had stayed in the morgue
than the dead itself could condone.
The acquitting was not indefinite, he was asked to stay for a period of three months and come back
to the prison, a condition given him by a presiding judge, Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, at the Federal
High Court, after the proposal of granting Uwazuruike bail failed over three times.
Uwazuruike was in the custody of two serving senators, Uche Chukwumerije and Ikechukwu Obiora,
and two traditional rulers, Eze Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu (Eze Ndigbo Lagos) and Eze
Nwosu Ibe (Eze Ndigbo of Abuja), as one of the conditions of granting him bail.
Another condition was that the MASSOB leader was also expected to report to the nearest police
station as well as ensure peace and order reign during the three-month period. And Uwaruruike
obliged by these conditions in making sure that peace and order reign, even that many Igbo sons and
daughters who were at the same time charged to court in connection with MASSOB, languish in the
Nigerians prisons; some even, were alleged killed by Nigerian security agents, during MASSOB
While the Nigerian government feels that Uwazuruike deserves to die in the prison, it forgot the
partiality to justice it played on December 19, 2006, when the leader of a militant group, Oodua
Peoples Congress (OPC), Gani Adams and five others walked out free of charge from a Federal High
Court sitting in Abuja, while Ndiigbo sons and daughters who are connected to MASSOB were left to
rot in the Nigerian prison?
The Nigerian government struck-out the case of Adams and his followers on the ground that, it lacked
jurisdiction. But the Federal Government forgot that not like non- violence MASSOB, Adams faction
of the OPC was demanding the course of its self reliance and had been backed by notable grassroot
Awoists. One might say that the release of the radical eggheads in Yorubaland was because this
case lacked jurisdiction or that the Yoruba elite was behind him, but this could be because he was
It could be recalled that before Adams' unconditional release, Dr Frederick Fasheun who led another
faction of OPC was released on health grounds. The pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, put its head in
making sure that he was released. Also, the Niger Delta militant, Muhajid Asari-Dokubo, who was
alleged, had caused all sorts of havoc, raising arms and annihilating innocent citizens with members
of his deadly gang, the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteers Force (NDPVF), was granted bail through the
legacy of a profound Ijaw leadership. But Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and his followers who were locked
up on the same charges and who lodged complaints of ill-health was denied bail to seek medical
attention. And it was a big shame on many Igbo elites group not to have had the guts to put their
heads, like the Afenifere did. Uwazuruike was sick and desperate for medical attention; he was not a
free man until Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, on Friday, October 26, 2007, granted him bail. While the
Ndiigbo Ohanaeze perhaps wanted Uwazuruike dead, Nigerians unequivocally saw that in a
reportedly interview by the then Secretary General of the group, Chief Joe Achuzie who in this
interview with Cajetan Mmuta of the Daily Champion issued a statement saying:
Ohanaeze cannot lend support to Uwazuruike other than ask Uwazuruike and his group to recant.
They can fight against Igbo marginalization if that is what they are fighting for under a different name,
not actualization of sovereign state of Biafra. It is unfortunate that everytime MASSOB is mentioned,
everybody looks on the Igbo as if they were the architect and activists of MASSOB. I want to make it
abundantly clear that at no time did Ohanaeze or Nd'Igbo in any meeting of any kind sit down to
fashion out an organization called MASSOB.
This statement by Achuzie whose civil war credentials is still today questionable, reportedly made
this comment upon Uwazuruike's arrest on November 28, 2005. This degenerated a lot of comments.
Comment (Ambrose Ehirim): This line of policy abstaining from affairs of the Igbo nation like that of
Uwazuruike and MASSOB was typical of a bunch that had no clue what was going on and what the
bigot Olusegun Obasanjo who had suddenly become a stateman after his command had committed
rape and pillage against the Igbos. This kind of statement obviously fired up Obasanjo's quest in
determining how to handle the Igbo nation when it comes to situations like this - the slamming of
Uwazuruike and his followers. But Achuzia who thought he was doing his efulefu Igbo bunch a favor
in order to pacify Obasanjo, was totally wrong and missed it entirely. It also made one fear for Igbo
unity because when Afenifere and elders of the Yoruba leadership forum are asking that Adams,
Fasheun and the rest OPC gang be released without charge, Achuzia and his confused efulefu bunch
were busy trying to see what leftovers could reach them in Abuja. It made one fear for Igbo unity
because when Adams and Fasheun had had all sorts of backing from every aspect of Yoruba
leadership, never minding the havocs caused by Adams faction of OPC, Achuzia and his inept dovish
group were busy keeping funny books in disguise and on the ground they were representing the Igbo
nation. It made one fear for Igbo unity because when other militant groups around the nation were
fighting for what they figured was a just cause, the do-nothing World Igbo Congress was busy
chasing money at Abuja on the pretence it was Igbo umbrella.
While the Nigerian government had looked for a tangible case to nail Uwazuruike forever aside
MASSOB so that the international community who had beamed its searchlight on MASSOB would
not cough, the Nigerian police in Jan. 14, 2010 rearrested Uwazuruike in a circumstance described in
many quarters as, ahead of the governorship poll in the state of Anambra on Feb. 6, 2010. But to the
contrary, a police spokesman said Uwazuruike was being held following a petition by an individual,
Pascal Okorie, who is accusing the MASSOB leader of kidnapping him. Notwithstanding, one
wonders why this allegation could be coming up now when Uwazururike had been making sure that
peace reigns without violence in his MASSOB agitation? Does this mean that the Nigerian
government and some individuals have made it their duty to terminate sleep from Uwazuruike's eyes?
And why would Uwazuruike kidnap Okorie? This allegation best fits to be listened with the anus.
And when we talk about kidnapping, after the arrest of Uwazuruike, his wife, Mrs. Ngozi Uwazuruike
raised alarm that after her husband was put behind the bar, he was later whisked away to an
unknown destination neither known to her nor to the family members, by security operatives. This
devoid the appearance of Uwazuruike in court within that time frame. Was this act not kidnapping?
And who would charge the Nigerian government to court for that single inhumanity act? The allegation
of kidnapping on Uwazuruike will never be unconnected to his refusal to compromise the Biafran
struggle. His stand on that struggle was responsible for the treasonable felony charge being pursued
against him by the Nigerian government. And today, a court of law was reportedly saying that
Uwazuruike is liable to face death penalty, if the charges of kidnapping levelled against him was to be
Comment (Sab Aliozor): The MASSOB leader should be allowed to have his freedom. Other
Nigerians with same political ideology are not in detention. The truth is that 'anybody that says or
does anything against MASSOB has no clear mind of calculating what is good or bad'. The person is
not morally disciplined. That means you like Nigeria's present state of corruption, electoral fraud,
tribalism, poor electricity, lack of job, insult to Nigerians abroad, etc. You should understand that
Uwazuruike was talking with his mouth and not talking through the barrels of the gun. Therefore
putting him in detention is actually the traditional Nigeria's political style of tribalism and its normal
way of silencing opposition and truth. Most of my friends who went to Nigeria to settle have returned
back here. They said the situation is terrible. The government should focus attention on people that
have real threats and not on those they perceived as threats. Today's punch newspapers (Feb. 2,
2010) talked about a group outside Nigeria which offers to train some of their Muslim brothers in
Nigeria, so that they could resist the government effectively and fight the rest of the people. People's
names were mentioned. The police only said, it is ready to stop them. And I ask, why not make
arrests on the matter now? Why focus attention on a group that has never fought or killed people, a
group that is just operating on literal level?
Comment The Sun Friday August 1, 2008 (Ralph Uwazuruike): We have a nation that does not
represent the interest of the people. If there is free and fair election in Igbo land where our
representatives are voted, people like Ben Obi should be at Abuja, and not at home. But here
elections are conducted and results are given to people who were never voted for. And these people
who are always chosen, know that they never went there because of us and whenever they go there,
they tend to represent those that facilitated their going into that post. That is the problem we have.
When we conduct elections and our elections are recognized, we won't be worried. That is the
biggest problem we have. People tell me, you are a lawyer, why are you criticizing the judiciary? As
Ralph Uwazurike, I don't believe that judiciary is independent in Nigeria, and I say it with all intents
and purposes and will continue to say it. The appointment of the Chief Justice of Nigeria is being
politicized. Has an Igbo man been the Chief Justice of Nigeria since 1970? In 2007, do you know that
there was no election in Nigeria? And everybody knows that. Everyone knows that there was no
election in 2007. And even if people should be declared us winner, not anything that has to do with
PDP. People were fed up with the PDP in 2007. All things being equal, I am convinced that the
biggest surprise we would have is to say that PDP won the election because there was no election.
Self- determination is an inalienable right like freedom of expression, association to life, and all that.
The idea of having fairness in Nigeria has nothing to do with that. Even if the whole Igbos feel that
there is fairness in the land, I can still continue with the struggle as Ralph Uwazurike, not minding if I
have the support or not. That is because I have the right, and I can say my family is Biafra. I don't
see any basis, like Gowon said some time that there is no basis for one Nigeria. I don't see any
basis for that, and even if we all say let's come together, it is no guarantee that tomorrow it will not
change. If the elite say that they want one Nigeria, I know that the masses would say they want
Comment Asher (France): They can't stop the time. I'm proudly Biafran. Long Live Biafra, Long Live
Celestine Eze Chinedu: Why is Federal Government of Nigeria afraid of Uwazuruike?
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Author, Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State.
Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: [email protected]