STATE MURDERS IN NIGERIA AND MASSOB SEPARATIST MOVEMENT
May 30 2011 marked the 44th anniversary of Biafra’s independence declaration. In 1967 when the entire people of Southeastern region of what is considered Nigeria took the decision in an act of Self-Determination to declare their freedom from Nigeria it was their last resort effort, the only option open to them as a people who were at the verge of being completely wiped out of the face of the Earth by fellow human beings. It was their last line of self-defense. No one could have done anything different in that circumstance. It was the only right thing to do and, as events of the past 40 years have proved, it remains the only right thing to do by the same people. Subsequent generations of Igbo/Biafran people (if any would have survived, which is doubtful) and the rest of the world would have condemned that generation of heroes if they had done anything differently. They were right in their decision to leave Nigeria and have remained vindicated ever since.
The threat the people of Biafra faced in 1967 was real and imminent just as much as it is today, four decades down the road. The threat was an organized and executed pogrom by a state, the Nigerian state with all the state apparatus at its disposal. The government and people of Nigeria, in one of the most blatant acts of pogrom of all time, committed a dastardly heinous crime of genocide on Igbo/Biafran people out of intolerance and pure hatred of that ethnic group. For a period of one year from 1966 to 1967, Nigeria and its citizens murdered more than 100,000 Igbo/Biafran ethnic group in their midst. Nigeria and Nigerians were bent and have remained unrepentantly so, on cleansing the ethnic Igbo/Biafran people from their midst. Yet the most disturbing truth is that though Nigeria and its citizens have had this senseless and rabid hatred for the Igbo/Biafran ethnic group but they would not let these victims of their hatred go their separate ways and be by themselves.
That was exactly what they did anyway, on May 30, 1967. Under the leadership of Emeka Ojukwu, Biafrans left Nigeria to be on their own by declaring the Republic of Biafra but Nigeria chased after them, pillaged and murdered additional 3 million of them in the space of 3 years. And ever since it has remained the case of you hate and loath a thing or a people but you would not let them go away from you. All efforts on the direction of self-assertion by Igbo/Biafran people ever since have always been severely suppressed by the Nigerian government with very disproportionate force. Though tragic but it was not completely surprising when on 30 May 2011 Nigerian government came out in full force to maul down with machine guns 3 unarmed members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB. Nigeria was only reenacting the 1967 war of aggression which they waged on the hapless Biafrans. The crime the said MASSOB members committed that led to the killing of 3 of them by the Nigerian police as headed by Alhaji Ibrahim Maishanu, wounding hundreds of others and arresting 500 while damaging and impounding 70 of the buses they were travelling in, was that they were on their way to the venue where they wanted to commemorate the 44th anniversary of Biafra’s independence. This dastard act made MASSOB leader, Ralph Uwazurike who maintains that his organization still remains a peaceful one, to ask why the Nigerian government continues to kill members of his group and other Igbo people for no other reason than hatred for the people of their ethnic group.
The Biafra War that started in the beginning of June 1967 would end in the middle of January 1970. But it was not going to be long to prove that for Nigeria it is one thing to say that the war was over but a totally different thing for the killings and deaths by starvation to stop. For the next one year following the so-called cessation of fighting, Biafran people were still being hunted and summarily executed by the occupying Nigerian forces. The then leader of Nigeria, Yakubu Gowon who is considered as one of the vilest of genocidal monsters that walked this Earth would not let relief materials and food sent by the Red Cross and other international aid groups into the Biafran territory long after the war ended. In the minds of his victims, Gowon remains one of history’s worst murderers of women and children, most people actually think of him as evil personified. By Gowon’s act of blocked of humanitarian materials from reaching the people that needed them, Biafran people continued to die in tens of thousands from complications resulting from starvation, kwashiorkor or Harold Wilson syndrome, named after the former British Prime Minister, long after the bombings had stopped falling on the civilian population.
We need to note that the recent killing of the members of the non-violent MASSOB organization is coming a few days after the official visit to Nigeria by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. As expected while he was there, for the Secretary-General it was see no evil, hear no evil and talk no ill of the host country: Just tell them what you have programmed them to want to hear; patronize them with the chanting of the hollow mockery of “free, fair and credible elections”. This is how someone explained it; “more than 90% of elected officials in Nigeria swim in stolen money and on purpose mislead VIP visitors with red carpets and state banquets”. And for this it may be necessary to tell it plainly to these visitors that Africans down the south of Sahara have had enough of this mockery. Mr. Secretary, the truth about Nigeria and most of the other countries south of Sahara is Self-Determination of the different ethnic nationalities as is taking place in South Sudan today. The least of all their problems can hardly be this deadly mantra, “free, fair and credible election”.
So much blood has been shed in the name of this dubious chanting of “free, fair and credible elections” in the southern half of the Sahara when the actual culprit is the extant fictional, unrealistic and conflicts-breeding state boundaries. We suggest that it is time to stop these pretenses Mr. Secretary, in doing so we will help stop this unnecessary destruction of the lives of children, women and men. What the people of MASSOB, and indeed the rest of the ethnic groups in Nigeria want is to get out of Nigeria and very fast too. While you were there visiting Mr. Secretary, you should have seen that message writ large all over the place or you should have asked and if you were earnest enough for an answer you would have been told the truth. For instance, if you had asked why there was so much murder and looting after Nigeria’s “free, fair and credible elections” in April, someone would have told you that all the ethnic groups that make up Nigeria want to go their separate ways. The people are just being held in bondage within the choking toxic space of Nigeria by the ruling class for their selfish gains. This ruling class is serving as the colonial masters of the people. As a result of this colonial subjugation the people’s lives and future are being wasted and these lives can never equate with the mirage called “free, fair and credible elections”.
To further stress this point, if the problem in Nigeria had been the issue of “free, fair and credible elections” there would not have been so many separatist groups and agitations. Practically all the geopolitical zones have very well-entrenched separatist or Self-Determination groups representing them. Every group wants to leave Nigeria. Apart from the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB which represents the Southeast, there is Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND that represents the South/South. In the West there is the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC which is a militant Yoruba nationalist separatist organization. Then there is the Middle Belt Federation, MBF also a separatist group led by Leonard Shilgba. The North has their own Boko Haram which is an Islamic fundamentalist group seeking a separate Islamic state for the north based on the principles of sharia. So, what the various ethnic groups in Nigeria want is a partition of the country along ethnic/cultural divides and not any “free, fair and credible elections”. We can help end this constant clash of cultures and bloodshed by splitting up Nigeria today. That is the right thing to do.
Written by Osita Ebiem.