Killed For Freedom
Pro-Biafra supporters have met unkind treatments in the hands of security operatives in Nigeria for the purpose of freedom. Many have been tortured, imprisoned and killed. Odimegwu Onwumere who joined the pro-Biafra supporters in their protests writes
Miss Angelina Obi was crying for help in her own pool of blood during a peaceful protest that turned bloody in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State.
Obi was shot by security operatives who did not want the protest organized by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in solidarity with the fresh President of America, Donald Trump, on his swearing in occasion, January 20 2017.
IPOB is a group working-up for the self-government of the people of Biafra that comprise States like Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Delta.
Other members of the IPOB in that protest shared the fate that befell Obi. Sadly, she could not easily get the help that she was seeking for, as those who were supposed to help were running for cover, for their life.
It’s just an iota of the many sadistic attacks and unjustifiable putting-to-death of the IPOB members during protests that were fashioned by the Nigeria Army, the Police and operatives of the secret police, the State Security Services (SSS). Just like Obi who was singing and dancing in the large crowd during the peaceful protest before she met her ordeal at St. John Junction, Port Harcourt, many of her ilk have been shot, tortured and arrested in different IPOB peaceful protests by the authorities.
Since 1967, pro-Biafra loyalists have been meted out with marginalization, pogrom, mutilation and what not for the same sake of freedom, especially before and during a war that broke out between Biafra and Nigeria in 1967 that lasted till 1970.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria has wanted the peoples from Biafra extirpated. Agitating for freedom is just their ‘sin’ in the Nigeria’s periscope. This has drawn the ire of some international community and they support the actualization for the Republic of Biafra.
It’s General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who started the championing for the freedom of Biafra from Nigeria that plunged into the war which consumed over 3 million Biafrans until his death on 26 November 2011, in a London hospital, United Kingdom. Since his demise, many splinter groups have emerged for the purpose of attaining freedom for Biafra.
After the war of 1967-70, there is a renewed onslaught by the federal might against the freedom agitators that have left scores of Biafrans dead under the umbrella of the IPOB.
Mr. Nnamdi Kalu, the Radio Biafra Director and leader of the IPOB was for the reason of freedom, arrested by the Federal Government on October 14 2015. His continued incarceration after being granted bail many times by competent courts has raised eyebrows in many quarters. The IPOB members however have fingered that the authorities have been playing the ostrich in order to maim him secretly in prison. The members also have a belief that the authorities were muddled with the allegations of treason and other nefarious charges they mounted on his head; being the reason they do not want to let him off the hook.
“It is obvious that the Nigerian Federal Government has no case against our leader Nnamdi Kanu, hence we continue to call for his release rather than his vindictive detention,” said a high profile source in IPOB.
The protests have been convincing in countries and places like the USA, Brazil, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Japan, Israel, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Spain, Italy, UK, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Mexico, Malaysia, UAE, South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Gabon, Togo, Kenya, Australia, Sweden Denmark, and China, and so many other countries.
But between 2015 and 2017, the Niger Bridge Head, Obodoukwu Road, Onitsha Main Market, Upper Iweka, Aba, Oyigbo, Port Harcourt, Onitsha-Owerri Road and Onitsha-Enugu Express way, Oba Junction to Tazan Junction, Onitsha, Enugu, Asaba, Owerri and other places in the Biafran land have been witnesses to Biafrans blood.
Resilience For Freedom
Many perceived intimidations by the authorities have been noticed, but the spirits of the IPOB could not be waned. May 10, 2016, witnessed the presence of over 6, 000 IPOB protesters in the streets of Aba, Abia State, upon government tenacious efforts to clamp down the reason for the protest – the actualization of Republic of Biafra.
In the protests, the IPOB members were wearing attires crested with Biafra emblems such as the Coat of Arms and Flag. In Aba, the IPOB members have been showing undeterred efforts for freedom in places like Ariaria International Market, through Faulks road to Okigwe road.
In one of the protests, they said that they dare Major General Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria, for supposedly swaggering that he would burst Biafra and her agitators within days. A national broadsheet reported, “President Muhammadu Buhari is strongly opposed to the creation of Biafra. In May 2016 during a visit to the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Mr. Buhari suggested that it is better for Nigerians to commit mass suicide than for the actualization of the breakaway state of Biafra.”
Buhari’s comments were captured thus, “We will not let that happen. For Nigeria to divide now, it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned.” But some IPOB reports stated that they would continue to show their love for Biafra, and assure Buhari that “not even a thousand Buharis can stop the actualization of Biafra.”
“It will surprise him that Biafra will be actualized during his reign as Nigeria’s President. Buhari supports Western Sahara and Palestine to be granted sovereignty while he continues to suppress Biafra. Is this double standard? In fact, Buhari will be the last President of Nigeria,” the IPOB said.
Solidarity For Trump
On that day in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s security machinists scattered IPOB members and over 20 IPOB members were shot and over 60 were arrested. So, therefore, a Public Relations Officer of the Rivers State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni was in the forefront describing the solidarity as unlawful.
Police were angst-ridden that there was no government lawful permit that the group had to embark on the commemoration commonality. But before the Police could blink, the protest had spread through Oluobasanjo Road to Waterlines to Aba Road and adjoining environs in Rivers State. It was at Garrison, St. John, and Artillery areas of Port Harcourt that the protest turned bloody, when military showed up against the protest. Many were flogged and beaten especially those who flouted the military barricaded areas.
“Though we know that the government of President Buhari is tyrannical, devilish and exhibiting religious and ethnic hatred against Christians and Biafrans, we don’t anticipate that Nigeria security agents will still be primitive in handling civilian affairs that attract international attention like Biafra actualization struggle,” a pro-Biafra leader said in a statement.
A Director of Information for the protesters in Rivers State, Mr. Anuken Anthony said that the security hadn’t the uprightness to molest the protesters given that they notified security agents before embarking on the protest. He lamented bitterly against the outcome of the protest.
Anthony told reporters, saying, “For now, over 70 supporters of Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and IPOB have been arrested and about 15 of them are in the painful mood due to the bullet wounds. Our members have taken some of them to the hospital; we are praying that nothing should happen to any of them.”
Anthony wondered where on earth the soldiers would assault the innocent peaceful protesters, adding, “Our support for Donald Trump cannot be deterred by military intimidation and harassment. We were not violent. We were only showing solidarity to American President whom we take as one of our own.”
While the security agencies denied killing or imprisoning any pro-Biafra protesters, Amnesty International (AI) since November 2016, has hinged on, that Nigeria security forces have killed 150 pro-Biafra protesters.
“On Biafra Remembrance Day itself, the security forces shot people in several locations. Amnesty International has not been able to verify the exact number of extrajudicial executions, but estimates show that at least 60 people were killed and 70 injured in these two days, when the largest numbers of IPOB members were killed during the Biafra Remembrance Day of May 30, 2016. The real number is likely to be higher,” the source revealed in a statement.
The international group concerned with the protection of Human Rights of all people irrespective of creed, religion and nationality revealed how the Nigeria Army tortured and executed 150 pro-Biafra agitators particularly between August 2015 and August 2016.
AI in a report tagged – Bullets Were Raining Everywhere: Deadly Repression of Pro-Biafra Activists – exposed how data from 87 videos, 122 photographs and 146 eye witness manifests uncovered Nigeria military firing live ammunition to the pro-Biafra protesters.
“The authorities must immediately launch an impartial investigation and bring the perpetrators to book,” AI said.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet, Writer and Consultant based in Rivers State. He contributed this piece via [email protected] (The pictures credit goes to the audience).