BIAFRA GROUP FILES COMPLAINT AGAINST NIGERIA AT ICC
Igbo ethnic people of Southeastern Nigeria have a population of 50 million. They are predominantly Christians and Animists. The majority of the other Nigerians are predominantly Muslims. Culturally, religiously and ethnically the Nigerian society has remained incongruous and violently conflicted. Nigeria like most other Black African countries is an artificial state entity that was cobbled together without recourse to the existing fundamental ethnic/religious or cultural differences. As a result very deep-rooted hatred and intolerance has bedeviled the country’s population and led to the endemic killing of the ethnic Igbo people and others from the area called Biafraland by the rest of Nigerians.
Beginning from 1945 Igbo/Biafran people have suffered innumerable genocidal killings of their kind as members of the Nigerian union. This is 2012 and the killings have continued. So, here we are talking of 67 years of consistent and unremitting persecution, oppression, murdering and looting of a people, in other words, crimes against humanity. Starting from 1966 the pace and scope of the killings increased, widened and became alarming. The people were getting killed in their tens of thousands. And millions of others were being internally displaced. It reached the breaking point when the leaders of Igbo ethnic people under the leadership of Emeka Ojukwu led the rest ethnic peoples within the Eastern Region to secede from the Nigerian union the following year, 1967. Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967.
Secession for the Easterners was a last resort effort to try and secure the lives and properties of their people. Biafrans fought a bitter war of independence from 1967 to 1970 and were forced back to rejoin Nigeria. But that was not before they had lost 3.1 million of their population. Biafra War is officially regarded in many quarters as an ethnic/religious cleansing embarked on by the Nigerian state. Nigeria then and now is predominantly Muslim while Biafra then and now is entirely made up of Christians and Animists.
The reunion was viciously achieved because the bulk of the oil revenue that sustains Nigeria’s economy is located in the Biafran territory. When the war ended the victors were unwilling to address the fundamental cause of the endemic problem which is the irreconcilable tripartite evil of ethnic/religious/cultural conflict. So the ethnic killings of Igbo/Biafrans have continued even 42 years after the war. A total of 5 million Igbo/Biafrans have been killed by this method of ethnic cleansing in Nigeria in the last 67 years.
Today, the pace of suicidal bomb attacks of Igbo churches, homes, business places and town hall meeting places have increased. The Islamic attackers which have at various times manifested with different names presently go by Boko Haram. Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group that has vowed to use jihad and Islamize Nigeria and turn it into a theocratic Islamic state. The group has continued to target the Igbo/Biafran ethnic people whom they consider as the obstacle to their goal. The Islamic Boko Haram kill Igbo and other Biafrans in churches, marketplaces and any other place they can find them while the Nigerian government continues to demonstrate its unwillingness to protect Igbo/Biafrans’ lives and properties within Nigeria.
It is this state of hopelessness in the Nigerian government to provide them security that has driven a group of Igbo/Biafrans known as Biafra Liberation in Exile (BILIE) to formally send a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Just as Ojukwu was moved in 1967 to declare independence to directly assume the responsibility of protecting his people from the genocidal killings, the group is asking ICC to intervene on their behalf before their kind are completely exterminated in Nigeria. BILIE through their legal representatives from Brimstone and Co. of Washington, DC in the United States is requesting the Chief Prosecutor at ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo to initiate investigations into the Islamic/ethnic/cultural killings of Igbo and other Biafrans in Nigeria. Anyone can follow the news by visiting BILIE’s website at www.bilie.org and click on genocide. This request by BILIE compares with the recent declaration by Moreno-Ocampo while visiting Misrata, Libya. During the visit he announced that ICC would commence investigations into the alleged violent sex crimes (rapes) committed by forces loyal to the former Libyan leader Gadhafi against civilians during the Libyan conflict of 2011.
Many analysts are following closely this case filed by BILIE against Nigeria as it will prove to be historic and significant in many ways. It will be the first time that such a case will be entertained by the world’s apex court against Nigeria. This is so in spite of the several incidents of crimes against humanity that are committed daily in Nigeria and reported by various human rights bodies. But it is alleged that over the years the Nigerian state has used bribes and other corrupt practices to prevent any move that would have exposed the atrocities being committed by Nigeria and its agents against Igbo/Biafrans. Some people also believe that if the case is handled properly it will serve to deter the people who in the past 67 years have acted with impunity believing that they are above the law from causing more harm. Others think it will help focus the attention of the world community on the need to dismember the Nigerian union and end the killings once and for all time.
Igbo/Biafrans maintain that genocides and other crimes against humanity are continually being committed against them in Nigeria and that the government has never shown any desire to protect them or punish those who hurt them. They claim that Nigeria has failed them by not just being unwilling to secure their lives and properties; it has put in place certain official policies that make it impossible for them to have a future within the Nigerian union. As a result Igbo/Biafrans have continued to agitate for separation from Nigeria through the process of Self Determination. They cite the 2011 Sudan Solution as a recent reference.
Written By Osita Ebiem