BVI Channel 1 Online can confirm that the British Government has accepted in principle a memo submitted through the House of Commons by the Biafran Diplomatic Team headed by Barr Emeka Emekesri.
In the 37-pages presentation,the memo focused on how best to free all the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria from slavery.The memo stated in details :’It is no secret that the case between Biafra and Nigeria has gone beyond the ability of the Nigerian Government to handle alone without the assistance of experienced countries that have passed through the same turbulent period of nation-building. The Nigeria-Biafra conundrum should be resolved peacefully and pragmatically without further delay. This Paper proffers the solution. The late Honourable Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, JSC, as he then was, made a profound statement at the Oputa Panel Hearings when he said, “Time does not heal injustice. Only truth can heal injustice.”
The agitation for independence by Biafrans stems from a feeling of injustice, marginalization, institutionalised persecution, discrimination and denial of their rights. Some unarmed Biafran youths have been so frustrated that they became restive in their quest for independence and were massacred and assassinated by the Nigerian Army and Police in cold blood. We condemn such acts of lawlessness and abuse of human rights.
The Nigeria-Biafra question can be resolved and must be resolved peacefully without further shedding of blood and disturbance of public peace. In view of the positions taken by the British Government and the French Government in recent times that they would not support the break-up of Nigeria, we have proffered a solution that will satisfy the yearnings of the Biafrans as well as keep Nigeria one in line with the official position of the British Government. It is a win-win solution where all parties will be satisfied.
We quite understand and appreciate the fears of the World Powers in the international community regarding the consequences of the possible disintegration of Nigeria. For this reason, we present this paper to the British Parliament through The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP, with the intent that it will be adopted by the British Government to resolve the seemingly intractable problems between Biafra and Nigeria based on the British Government Policy of 1969 reproduced as follows:“Our policy is based on the principle that secession is damaging both to Nigeria and to Africa as a whole… We must have regard both to the welfare of Nigeria as a whole and to the future of Africa, and to our own standing both with Nigeria and with Africa. The fact is that Nigeria needs the Ibos and the Ibos need Nigeria. Iboland is an integral part of Nigeria not just politically but geographically, commercially and in every other way. It cannot exist on its own and the minority peoples adjacent to it have no wish to be incorporated in Biafra or to be dominated by the Ibos. Any solution which stops short of recognizing this cannot last and only stores up trouble for the future…Ever since the beginning of the dispute we have taken a leading role in efforts at mediation. Ministers have had repeated discussions with both sides, most recently during the Commonwealth Conference…But there is as yet no sign of a real willingness to compromise on either side on the essential question of independence and sovereignty for Biafra, and the gap is still as wide as ever. If Nigerian unity were accepted, negotiations could concentrate on protection for the Ibos in a free and equal Nigeria; if Biafran independence were accepted, negotiations could concentrate on co-operation. But at present there is no common ground on this issue, although in reality there are strong common interests”. (The National Archives of the British Government: Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the National Archives, Catalogue Reference CAB/129/140, 10th March 1969, Pp. 2 – 5)
2. Comments on the British Government Policy of 1969:
We would like to make some comments on the British Policy Statement quoted above to emphasise our submission in this paper:
(1) The first statement is on secession: “Our policy is based on the principle that secession is damaging both to Nigeria and to Africa as a whole… We must have regard both to the welfare of Nigeria as a whole and to the future of Africa, and to our own standing both with Nigeria and with Africa”. To this statement we shall emphasise that it is only secession by violence that is damaging to Nigeria and Africa but not secession by legal methodology. When the world powers and the managers of the country fail to listen to the cries of the oppressed people and proffer solution, the people will be forced to take the laws into their hands and become violent by way of civil disobedience.
It appears that the British Government Policy in 1969 regarded secession as a crime against social stability because of the violence usually associated with it. Due to the fact that many secession movements in the past had been violent leading to wars, the word “secession” seems to have acquired a new meaning in the minds of some people in the society. But strictly speaking, to secede means to withdraw from a federation or from an alliance. It is the fundamental right of a group to associate with or dissociate from another group just as an individual has the right to freedom of association. The word “independence” means being free from outside control or influence. It means self-governing, self-rule or self-determination. In effect, a group of people secedes in order to govern themselves. It is the same concept expressed in three synonyms, namely: secession, independence, self-determination. The three words mean the same thing. Law is dynamic and grows with the society. What was unlawful yesterday may become lawful today as knowledge and understanding increase from generation to generation.
(2) The second statement is on unity: “The fact is that Nigeria needs the Ibos and the Ibos need Nigeria. Iboland is an integral part of Nigeria not just politically but geographically, commercially and in every other way. It cannot exist on its own and the minority peoples adjacent to it have no wish to be incorporated in Biafra or to be dominated by the Ibos. Any solution which stops short of recognizing this cannot last and only stores up trouble for the future”. Without opposing the viewpoints of the British Government that “Nigeria needs the Ibos and the Ibos need Nigeria”, and that “Iboland cannot exist on its own”, or that “the minority peoples adjacent to it have no wish to be incorporated in Biafra or to be dominated by the Ibos”, we have decided to proffer the perfect solution where the Ibos would be in Nigeria and govern themselves as a nation within a nation without destabilizing the country so that the British Policy Statement remains correct: “Nigeria needs the Ibos and the Ibos need Nigeria”. This is why the Ibos proposed the six geopolitical regions in their Mkpoko Igbo Pre-Conference Meeting in 1994 and presented it to the National Conference organized by the General Sani Abacha Government in 1995 and it was accepted by Nigeria. The peoples described in the British Government Policy Statement as minorities adjacent to Iboland are now in their own region called the South-South Region. They are now free from the fear of domination by the Ibos.
Pursuant to this arrangement, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo sent a Memorandum to the National Assembly dated 28 June 2012 for the restructuring of Nigeria into six autonomous self-governing regions, namely: South East, South West, South South, North East, North West and North Central, as a manifestation of the Will of the People in the exercise of their right to self-determination. This is similar to the arrangement in the United Kingdom where there is devolution of power to the four nations in one, namely: England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The same formula was applied to devolve power to Catalonia in Spain and Kurdistan in Iraq. This political arrangement has helped in the stability and growth of the United Kingdom. It will also help in the stability and growth of Nigeria.
(3) The third statement is on the role of the British Government to mediate in the case between Biafra and Nigeria: “Ever since the beginning of the dispute we have taken a leading role in efforts at mediation. Ministers have had repeated discussions with both sides, most recently during the Commonwealth Conference…But there is as yet no sign of a real willingness to compromise on either side on the essential question of independence and sovereignty for Biafra, and the gap is still as wide as ever”. The Statement in 1969 remains valid today in 2018. There is no willingness to compromise on either side and the gap is still as wide as ever. In fact, the gap is now wider! A practical solution is needed now. The solution is devolution of power to the regions to govern themselves as autonomous regions in the One Nigeria. This is the Biafra Project we are advocating for at the moment by the use of political strategies. Some call it restructuring whilst we call it devolution of power to the regions for Regional Government. The details of the devolution shall be agreed by all the parties.
(4) The fourth statement is on national or international relations: “If Nigerian unity were accepted, negotiations could concentrate on protection for the Ibos in a free and equal Nigeria; if Biafran independence were accepted, negotiations could concentrate on co-operation. But at present there is no common ground on this issue, although in reality there are strong common interests”. History has proved that the acceptance of One Nigeria did not guarantee the protection of the Ibos in a free and equal Nigeria as the British Government had expected in 1969. There is institutionalised persecution and marginalisation of the Ibos in Nigeria. We must emphasise here that what the Biafrans lost after the war was their sovereignty and not their identity as a people. The Ibos are Biafrans, the most hated, persecuted and marginalized ethnic group in Nigeria.
3. Evidence of Institutionalised persecution of the Biafrans in Nigeria:
The atrocities committed and being committed by the Nigerian Government and its agents against the Ibos are too numerous to mention but a few will suffice here:
(1) By a Policy of Economic Strangulation, the Nigerian Government closed down all the seaports in the Eastern Nigeria which has the largest number of importers. No seaport in the East is functional. The Biafran businessmen must travel to Lagos to clear their goods.
(2) Oil wells of Iboland were carved into neighbouring States by Nigerian Government which divided Igbo villages and separated kinsmen by boundary adjustment treachery in order to deprive Iboland of its oil revenues.
(3) All Federal Government infrastructures in Iboland such as roads have dilapidated, e.g., Enugu-Onitsha Expressway and Enugu-Onitsha Old Road.
(4) All Federal Government institutions in Iboland are starved of funds including the premier University of Nigeria now with dilapidated infrastructures.
(5) Of all the geopolitical zones in Nigeria, it is only the South-East that has only five States while other zones have six and seven States thereby making The Igbo Tribe a minority in Nigerian politics, causing Iboland to lose N40billion annually, counting only from the Obasanjo days, as disclosed by Senator Annie Okonkwo representing Anambra Central, in the Sunday Sun Newspaper of January 13, 2008, at Page 49.
(6) Federal establishments such as PRODA and ANAMMCO which would have ushered industrial revolution into Nigeria have been left in ruins.
(7) Students from Iboland are cut-off with quota system formula in exams in order to admit students from States regarded as educationally disadvantaged.
(8) It is an unwritten policy in Nigeria that no Igbo man should be the Executive President of Nigeria but merely a ceremonial president like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe or Vice President like Dr. Alex Ekwueme who would function as errand boys without executive power.
(9) Igbo businessmen and industrialists are the targets of obnoxious policies made by Nigerian Government to destroy the financial power of Iboland. The Federal Government of Nigeria uses its security forces to harass, intimidate and frustrate the Igbo businessmen in the guise of fighting against corruption. The recent case of Dr Innocent Chukwuma of INNOSON MOTORS and Guaranty Trust Bank is a classic example where the Government sent the EFCC to intimidate, harass and frustrate the only Indigenous Industry in Africa that manufactures all types of vehicles.
On 21 December 2017, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, a former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a Yoruba man, wrote as follows:
THE INNOSON AFFAIR, THE IGBO AND THE ORPHANS OF THE CORPORATE WORLD
Such was his shock and anger at the turn of events that the real estate magnate and owner of the resplendent, opulent and stunningly beautiful ‘Amen Estate’ on the outskirts of Lekki in Lagos, Babatunde O. Gbadamosi, wrote the following:
“I have studied the case. I am going to withdraw ALL my funds from Guaranty Trust Bank tomorrow morning”. The basis of his angst and consternation was the plight of the proprietor of Innoson Motors at the hands of Guaranty Trust Bank, the EFCC and the Buhari administration. Babatunde’s disgust and repugnance at the way in which the bank and the EFCC behaved accurately reflects the mood and sentiment of millions of Nigerians on this matter. Yet in my view the matter goes much further and deeper than just GTB and the EFCC. They are simply willing puppets, tiny minions and minor players in a much bigger game and a much wider picture. Permit me to cross the “t”s, dot the “i”s, consider the background and look at the facts. In the last one year alone no less than three prominent Igbo businessmen have been arrested, humiliated and detained by the Buhari administration. All three are major employers of labour who fared extremely well under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and whose companies have become household names. The first is Cletus Ibeto of Ibeto Cement, a humble, charming, hard-working, low-profile and exceptionally profound and insightful man who I met when I was in detention last year. The second is the ebullient, young and vocal Ifeanyi Uba of Capital Oil and Gas, who later joined politics and who was indeed a member of President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign organisation in 2015 where we worked closely together. The third is Innocent Chukwuma, the owner of Innoson Motors whose company is the only one in Nigeria that produces cars, who I am told is an absolute gentleman and whom I have never met. These three men are amongst the five biggest and most prominent Igbo businessmen in the country today. The remaining two are Arthur Eze of Atlas Oronto Petroleum International and Emeka Offor of Chrome Oil both of whom have done very well but that have also had their own fair share of persecution and travails over the years. I made a point of doing the research in the cases of Chukwuma, Ibeto and Uba and why they were having issues with the EFCC and the SSS respectively and I came to the conclusion that not only had they done nothing wrong but they were being targeted simply because they were perceived as being “Jonathan men”, because they were deemed as being sympathetic to the PDP, because they were Igbo and finally simply out of envy from ruthless competitors. Given that it came as no surprise to me when, just yesterday morning, I was informed that Chukwuma’s home was raided and tear-gassed by the EFCC and he was arrested and detained in what can only be described as brutal and questionable circumstances. I was reliably informed that officers of the EFCC and the Nigerian Police not only injured many in his home but that they also slapped his wife. Never mind that he was later reportedly offered bail after what can only be described as a gruelling and harrowing period of torment and trauma: the fact is that his home should never have been raided and he should never have been arrested, detained and subjected to this brutal affront and indecorous indignity in the first place. Such was my concern for him and the way in which the security forces had behaved at his home that I was constrained to post the following on both my twitter handle and Facebook page on that same day. I asked, “Why should anybody be surprised about the arrest of the owner of Innoson Motors? They did the same to Cletus Ibeto about a year ago. These people come from the “wrong” part of the country and they are providing a service and employment for Nigerians. They must be punished for it!” I went further by offering some gentle and wise counsel to an old and dear friend by also posting the following: “I have known the MD of GTB, Segun Agbaje and his two older brothers, Femi and Jimi, for close to 40 years and I have immense respect and deep affection for them. I urge him not to expose himself to the shark infested waters of politics by allowing himself to be used by these barbarians to destroy Innoson. If he does he will regret it”. Yet it does not stop there. The matter goes much deeper and further than just the travails of Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Motors or indeed those of Cletus Ibeto and Ifeanyi Uba. It goes to the very heart and foundation of the fundamental problem of what Nigeria has been turned into by those who believe that they own her. It touches on the nationality question, the quest and struggle for equal rights and opportunities for the various ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria and the unofficial and unannounced policy of the Buhari administration to treat southerners as slaves and to discredit, crush and malign any Igbo person who aspires to excellence and greatness and who is a source of pride and inspiration to their people. To those that doubt this grave assertion I have one question to ask: can they, under ANY circumstances, imagine or envisage Aliko Dangote of the Dangote Group or Abdul Samad Rabiu of the BUA Group, both of whom are highly successful, extremely wealthy and very well-known northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani businessmen, being treated in this way by ANY Nigerian government let alone one like Buhari’s that was established by the Fulani and solely for the interests of the Fulani? The answer to the question is a resounding “no”. Yet for the southern businessman and particularly for the Igbo one the rules are very different and the treatment that they get from the government and its security agencies are a world apart. As a matter of fact they are unfairly deemed and insidiously labelled as the “fatherless ones” and the “orphans of the corporate world” simply because they are on their own and they have no favour or protection from government. It is clear that any Igbo man that has the temerity and the fortitude to shine and to rise up by dint of conviction, vision, passion and hard work must be humiliated, demonised and denigrated. The story and the theme appear to be a never-ending one and it touches on all spheres of human endeavour in Nigeria. The policy, principle and practice is the same: as long as you are Igbo you are in trouble and in order to survive you must sing the praises of the Buhari administration, bow and grovel to the Fulani, accept your servitude and slavery with stoic ignominy and “bend the knee. In the field of the struggle for self-determination and the quest for the establishment of the independent and sovereign state of Biafra the powers that be did it to the great Nnamdi Kanu, to his IPOB and to MASSOB. In the field of business they have done it to the Chukwumas, the Ubas and the Ibetos of this world. In the field of partisan politics they have done it to countless Igbo elders and leaders who have refused to bow to the Fulani hegemony that the Buhari administration represents. In the field of the Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police Force and the various security and intelligence agencies they have done it as countless Igbo career officers have either been denied promotion and operational command or they have been prematurely retired. Yet all this pales before the fact that thousands of young Igbo men and women have been secretly slaughtered, have been subjected to mass murder and genocide and have been buried in mass graves by agents of the Buhari government and security forces over the last two years and six months. I have written about this over and over again simply because I believe that an attack on the Igbo is an attack on the whole of the south and is indeed an attack on humanity and all right-thinking people. It is also an attack on the Christian faith of which I am a member because virtually every single one of the 50 million Igbos in Nigeria are Christians whilst those that are waging this unofficial and undeclared war against them are predominantly Muslims. That is why the meeting between the Igbo and the Yoruba leaders slated for January 11th in Enugu, under the auspices of Nzuko Umunna and which will be attended by the Obi of Onitsha, the Ooni of Ife, Afenifere, Ohanaeze and all the key Igbo and Yoruba leaders, intelligentsia and politicians from all sides of the political divide is so crucial. The Igbo and the Yoruba must set aside our differences, look at these matters, speak the bitter truth, come together and agree on how to move forward and protect our collective interest. Whichever way it goes and whatever happens the matter shall come to an expected end because the God of Heaven will not sit by idly and allow this injustice and wickedness to go on for much longer. I say this because the blood of the innocent cries to Him in heaven for vengeance and sooner or later He will hear their cry and both deliverance and judgement shall come. In the meantime when I heard about the injustice that Innoson and his family had been subjected to I wrote the following words which came to my spirit and which burn in my soul right up until this very moment. It is a heart-felt and powerful lamentation and it reflects the way virtually every right-thinking and sensitive southerner feels and thinks today about what is happening in Nigeria even though they may be too scared to voice it: “O Igbo what have you done to the sons of Futa Jalon? Why do the heathens rant and rage? Why do the cow-loving aliens and foreign invaders seek to subjugate you and wipe you off the face of the earth? In silent whispers they claim that they have cursed you, that you are not fit to rule or lead and that they hate you with a perfect hatred. Yet in 1966 you saw all this coming. You warned us about what would happen and you tried to do something about it. Sadly we would not listen and we laughed you to scorn. You saw what we never saw. You knew what we never knew. You suffered what we never suffered and you shed the tears that we never shed. 51 years later nothing has changed. They still kill you and rape your women. Only now they have widened the circle and it is no longer just you. They have enslaved the rest of us as well. They kill us too and rape our women. Those of us from the South West, South South and the Middle Belt that joined forces with them to kill you and starve your children to death have now been turned into their slaves and serfs. They kill us too and rape our women as well. They also take our land, shame our children and hate and denigrate our faith. Yet we look on sheepishly and helplessly all in the name of keeping the peace and political correctness: we accept our pitiable plight and we suffer in silence. The Bible asks, “What can flesh do to me?”, yet we ignore this divine injunction and Holy Scripture and bow our heads in trepidation and shame. Our men have become women and we mask our accursed fear of death, destruction and incarceration and our inexplicable awe of our collective oppressors with a shameful and cowardly smile. We readily accept every shame, every insult, every indignity and every act of savagery, brutality, barbarity and callousness that they inflict on us all for the sake of an illusionary, ephemeral, undefined and far-fetched concept known as “One Nigeria” which bears false and delusionary pretentions and claims of nationality and nationhood. We even thank our collective oppressors and captors and we rejoice with them when they denigrate our faith and when they slaughter our children and our beloved in the fields and in the streets. O Southern Nigeria: who has bewitched you? Cowardice is thy name”. May God deliver us! ” (Femi Fani-Kayode 2017) (10) Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, a Yoruba man and former Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has said it all. His testimony proves the institutionalised persecution of the Ibos in Nigeria. In his lamentation, he said with tearful heart to the Ibos as follows: “Those of us from the South West, South South and the Middle Belt that joined forces with them to kill you and starve your children to death have now been turned into their slaves and serfs. They kill us too and rape our women as well. They also take our land, shame our children and hate and denigrate our faith. Yet we look on sheepishly and helplessly all in the name of keeping the peace and political correctness:
To be continued