Your Honours, Biafra may not require much introduction to the Honorable House of Representative and the American Government. History books are filled with the story of the war of independence fought between Nigeria and Biafra from 1967 to 1970 in which about three million Biafrans were killed through the use of economic blockade by the Government of Nigeria to starve the Biafran civilians to death. Worse still, the Nigerian Government concentrated on the bombing of Biafran civilians in their homes, schools and village markets which the Government blamed on the incompetence of the Egyptian pilots employed by Nigeria to fight the war against Biafra.
It is an undisputable fact of history that we had a country called the Republic of Biafra which fought a war of independence with Nigeria from 1967 – 1970 and governed the people of Biafra as a de facto government until the end of the war. Though Nigeria did not recognize our country, five sovereign nations recognized the Republic of Biafra, namely: Tanzania, Haiti, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Zambia. Instead of admitting Biafra as a member of the United Nations having been recognized by five sovereign nations, the Arab nations and all Moslem countries helped Nigeria to defeat Biafra which victory Nigeria got by bombing and shooting our civilians, killing the Biafrans who surrendered and using starvation as a weapon of warfare against the civilian population of Biafra contrary to the laws of war.
The leaders of Biafra decided to surrender our sovereignty but not our identity as a people. Our leaders gave up the war of arms and ammunition in order to save the children and our race from annihilation so that we could live and fight again in a better and lawful way for our national liberation. Since after the war with Nigeria, the elders and traditional rulers of the remnants of the Biafrans have continued to provide the people with leadership and governance under our native laws and customs which resulted in a community-based governance of indigenous people of Biafra under customary law. This community-based governance of the remnants of the Biafrans by our Council of Elders has helped to maintain our identity as a people even though we lost our sovereignty which we now seek to regain by legal method.
It is our submission that what Biafra lost after the war was its sovereignty only. We the indigenous people of Biafra are still alive upholding our ancestral identity. The Biafran leaders thought it wise to give up the fight and our sovereignty in order to save the children who would grow up to fight their own war in their own way. It is now 57 years after the war of arms and ammunitions. Though the Customary Government of the Indigenous People of Biafra has been in federal high court with suit number FHC/OW/CS/192/2013 to establish her rights to Self Determination, the present agitation throughout Nigeria has presented a strong case to review the forceful amalgamation of the Northern part of Nigeria with that of the South.
Biafra was an ancient country which appeared first in the map of the world drawn by the Portuguese explorers between 1492 and 1729 located in the African continent. The map is still available today in the British Library and other Libraries of the world and shows Biafra as a large country then spelt variously as “Biafara”, “Biafar” and “Biafares” having boundaries with such ancient empires as Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Benin, Kamerun, Congo, Gabon, and others. It was in 1843 that the Map of Africa showed our country spelt as “Biafra” having some parts of the modern day Cameroon within its boundary including the disputed Bakassi Peninsula. The original territory of Biafra was not restricted to the present Eastern Nigeria alone. According to the ancient maps, the Portuguese travelers used the word “Biafara” to describe the entire region of the Lower Niger River and eastwards up to the Cameroon Mountain and down to the eastern coastal tribes, thus including parts of the modern day Cameroon and Gabon.
From the historical records, Biafra had existed on the Map of Africa for more than 400 years before Nigeria was created in 1914. The British had diplomatic dealings with Biafrans before the new country called Nigeria was created. The Biafra Nation practised autonomous democracies among its clans as practised among the Ibos today. Therefore, the Republic of Biafra which was declared in 1967 by General Odumegwu Ojukwu following the massacre of the Ibos in Northern Nigeria was not a new country but an attempt to restore the ancient Biafra Nation that existed before Nigeria was created by default..
The map of Biafra was deleted in 1884 – 1885 in the Berlin Conference in Germany when the Europeans and Americans placed the map of Africa on a table and shared the lands of Africa among themselves as colonies which act is known in history as the Scramble for Africa. They colonized the lands of Africa and created some new countries and redrew the maps. One of the new countries they created was Nigeria. This arbitrary sharing of the lands of Africa and creating artificial boundaries to merge incompatible tribes into one nation has caused much spilling of blood in Africa. Some of the indigenous people of Biafra were carved into Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, etc. Most of the descendants of the ancestors of Biafraland have lost their ancestral root but only the Biafrans living in the present South East Region of Nigeria, parts of the South-South Region and parts of the Middle Belt Region are still upholding their ancestral identity as descendants of indigenous people of Biafra.
2.THE BIAFRA’S CASE FOR SELF-DETERMINATION:
We have instituted a suit in the Federal High Court of Nigeria seeking, among other things, to exercise our right to self-determination. It is our position that what Biafra lost after the war of 1967-1970 was its sovereignty and not its people and what Nigeria got was a mere military conquest and not political victory. We have been forced to become Nigerians in an unholy marriage with the people of the North and West who hate us with perfect hatred because of who we are. The Government of Nigeria has persecuted and maltreated us beyond description. However, despite all the persecutions against us, we have continued to maintain our indigenous identity as Biafrans, though some of our brethren in the present South-South and Middle Belt of Nigeria have been forced to deny their Biafran identity in order to escape the persecution. We are an enterprising and industrious Christian nation practising republican democracy with an ideology of meritocracy and fair competition for which we are hated and persecuted by other Nigerians. International law is clear that it is the will of the people that determines and legitimizes the political status of a people. We are not free in Nigeria to develop and exercise our talents for the benefit of humanity. We feel like slaves in Nigeria and are actually regarded as second class citizens. It is therefore our people’s will to become an independent nation. As the people of South Sudan said in the course of agitating for their independence, we also say that “unity by force is slavery”. Thus, we have put the Nigerian Government on Notice that we are Biafrans by indigenous identity, though forced against our will to become Nigerians. We now strongly desire for independence by due process of law.
3.THE NATURAL LAW OF FREEDOM:
It is necessary at this time to ask the most important question: Why do the remnants of the Biafrans still desire freedom from Nigeria? It is natural that whenever a people are oppressed and persecuted by the government of the country in which they live, they will desire freedom. This is a spiritual principle which we can also find in the Bible. In Exodus 3: 7 – 10, the LORD God Almighty said to Moses, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows. And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians…Now therefore, behold the cry of the children of Israel has come unto me, and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
God said that the cry of the children of Israel had come unto him by reason of their bondage, persecution and oppression in Egypt. In the same way, God is saying that the cry of the Biafrans has come unto him by reason of their bondage, persecution and oppression in Nigeria. But who cried among the Biafrans? Was it the big man and his family who had denied their Biafran identity in order to receive favour from the oppressors? Was it the Abuja contractor who is in the good books of the oppressors that cried? Or, was it the politicians imposed on the Biafrans by the oppressors that cried? In every country where the people of an ethnic identity are persecuted, there are always some evil people among the oppressed tribe who would deny their identity, betray the common good of their people and receive favours from the oppressors. These people do not cry for freedom and in fact do not want their troubled tribe to be free because they are benefiting from the oppressive government. They live in opulence in the best mansions and drive the best cars and jet planes despite the excruciating pains of poverty in the land. These politicians from Biafraland serving in the Nigerian Government do not represent the people of Biafra. Their involvement in the government of Nigeria should not be used to assess the will of our people for self-determination.
We want to be free to develop our talents as a Christian nation for the benefit of mankind and to worship our God without interference from the Moslems who are forcing all Nigerians to convert to Islam or be killed by the Islamic Jihadists. In three years of separate existence from 1967 – 1970 as Biafrans, we astonished the whole world with our scientific and technological inventions that would have helped all nations of the world today. We are a gifted nation and should be allowed to shine as stars in our own country known from time immemorial as the LAND OF THE RISING SUN.
- THE RISE AND FALL OF NATIONS:
We the Biafrans have no intention of destroying Nigeria which was created by the Great Britain. Though we were forced against our will to become Nigerians, we have developed all parts of Nigeria with multi-billion naira investments which generate revenues to the governments of the various States where our investments are located but the people of other tribes do not invest in our own region. The peoples of other tribes see us as intruders and invaders from the East coming to dominate them in their own lands. Unfortunately, we have not developed our own region because we were deceived into believing in One Nigeria where everybody would have equal citizenship rights. We do not think that Nigeria will collapse or disintegrate if we leave the unholy union because the owners of Nigeria can live happily and manage their country without us. Egypt did not collapse or disintegrate when the Israelites left. India did not collapse or disintegrate when Bangladesh left. Ethiopia did not collapse or disintegrate when Eritrea left. Sudan did not collapse or disintegrate when South Sudan left last year. At the moment, Scotland wants to leave Britain and we believe that the Great Britain will still remain even if Scotland leaves the union. Why are the Nigerians afraid to let the Biafrans go? If Nigeria shall disintegrate at all, it will not be caused by the Biafrans but by the wickedness and injustice in the Nigerian polity.
That the indigenous people of Biafra have an unquenchable thirst and hunger for freedom is certain. The message of Biafra has been passed down to the children from generation to generation just as the message of the captivity of Israel in Egypt was passed down from generation to generation for four hundred years. We believe that the map of Biafra deleted by the Europeans at the Berlin Conference in 1884-1885 shall be redrawn, even if it does not include all the original tribes that made up the ancient country. In the Suit No FHC/OW/CS/192/2013, the Claimants defined the indigenous people of Biafra as the inhabitants of the South-East geopolitical region of Nigeria, parts of the South-South geopolitical region of Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. Though our enemies sowed some seeds of discord among us to divide the Eastern Region of Nigeria, we know that we are of a common ancestry. In fact, anybody who takes time to study the history will understand that all the people in the Eastern Nigeria and parts of the Middle Belt are of one ancestral root. This is why their customs and traditions are similar. The Biafra case for self-determination pending in the Federal High Court Owerri is an official demand on the sovereign to let the Biafrans go.
- REQUEST FOR URGENT INTERVENTION BY US HOUSE OF REPPRESENTATIVES:
The fact that the Biafrans have maintained their identity as a people and continued to struggle for independence for 57 years since after the war despite the persecutions meted out to them is clear evidence of the will of the people for self-determination. We are a viable nation and strongly believe that we shall gain independence from Nigeria. We have remained as a people practising community-based customary governance under our Council of Elders. We therefore request the US House of Representatives to accord due recognition to the Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra and the Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra to enable us to satisfy the requirements of international law for sovereignty. We are an enterprising people in science, arts, commerce and industry. In fact, with all the natural resources in Biafraland, our land may be described as a land flowing with milk and honey. We strongly request for the assistance of the United States Government in our quest for independence.
It is our opinion that the amalgamation of all the tribes to form the entity known as Nigeria was like a forced marriage of incompatible bedfellows. It is a spiritual principle contained in the Bible that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement, Amos 3:3. The peoples of the east, west and north are not in agreement and their lifestyles are incompatible. The United Kingdom of Great Britain is an excellent example where the four countries of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland exist in harmony as a nation but each remaining separate and autonomous. History has taught us that forced political marriages do not last. The major countries amalgamated by the British Colonial Masters have broken up along the lines of compatible tribes and tongues. India was a colony of Britain but broke up after its independence resulting in the three countries today called India, Pakistan and Bangladesh after brutal and prolonged civil wars. South Sudan was another great empire built by the British which broke up into two countries in July 2011 after prolonged civil war. Other great empires of the modern world wielded together by colonial powers have broken up along their ethnic lines. Malaysia broke up immediately after independence into Singapore and Malaysia. Indonesia broke up into Indonesia and East Timor. Czechoslovakia broke up into The Czech Republic and The Slovak Republic. Yugoslavia broke up into five countries namely, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Monte Negro and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The USSR was formed in 1917, three years after Nigeria, and broke up few years ago into dozens of separate countries. The truth is that forced marriages do not stand the test of marriage and must be dissolved either by Court Order or by self-help of desertion. The Americans have also predicted the collapse of Nigeria within 15 years from 2005.
We would like to allay the fears of the members of the international community and the peoples of other tribes in Nigeria who have various investments in Eastern Nigeria. We would also like to allay the fears of many Biafrans who have properties and investments in the northern and western Nigeria. When independence is achieved by legal method, all parties are happy and satisfied as there will be no loss on either side. In fact, a Biafran may decide to hold double citizenships or nationalities just as some Nigerian citizens are also British citizens and American citizens. If the Biafrans gain independence, all the westerners and northerners in the East will continue to live in Biafraland and carry on with their works and businesses. The only difference is that it would be like living in a foreign country of which the nationality laws permit a person to acquire the citizenship of the country by naturalization.
Your Honors’, assist us to ensure that machinery is urgently put in motion that will lead to urgent but peaceful separation of Biafra from Nigeria without rancour, friction or bloodsh
Engr Anthony Aniebue
Administrator-Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra