I have just read the attached Press Release from your Office lamenting the renewed hostilities between Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB.
I have listened carefully to many of your speeches and I am impressed by your understanding of the issues. Inside me, I do not believe that you and many of the Igbo leaders in Ohaneze deliberately mean any harm to the Igbo people. I can confidently say that you have intended to play the role of a father trying to protect his children from harm.
But you realise that you must be seen to be doing that and that intentions are not enough.
But your greatest failing has been in communication. You have been called upon to lead Igbo people at one of the most critical periods in our history second only to the period of the Genocidal War against Biafra. It was not a civil war. There was nothing civil about that war. As you know too well, the Igbo people are facing a battle for our very survival as a people. The level of hatred against the Igbo person has now exceeded 1966 levels. We face a daily barrage of abuse both in the North and West. We have totally been excluded from the running of the affairs of Nigeria. This is probably the only case in history where decisions affecting fifty million people are made without their participation. Our people are being suffocated from every direction.
The whole Igboland has been turned into one huge concentration camp with military and police checkpoints every other mile. Our people are being harassed and humiliated on a daily basis. Just yesterday, women carrying out a peaceful demonstration in Owerri for the release of IPOB Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his elderly parents and for Biafran Referendum were shot at, subjected to tear gas, huddled to the bushes and subjected to indignities. Those women are our mothers and wives and sisters. The irresponsible reaction of the police could easily have sparked an inferno that could have spread far and wide. It is becoming increasingly difficult to appeal to the younger generation to turn the other cheek when they are slapped. Demonstrators who are not causing any violence should be left alone.
Just three days ago, thirty-eight partly decomposed bodies of very healthy Igbo youths probably all in their late teens and twenties were discovered dumped in the bushes following the military invasion of Igboland last September 2017. Hundreds of unarmed Igbo youth were massacred during that invasion. Those young men were unarmed and plying the badly dilapidated roads of Igboland trying to eke out a living for themselves and their families. Those young men were mostly graduates without any jobs. And the response of President Buhari and his army was to kill them after torture fully documented and cut short their lives even before they had started. Young disaffected Northern youths going by the name Boko Haram who are heavily armed with AK47s and rocket launchers are as much as possible captured, disarmed, detained and soon after released by the same army. Why are Igbo youth being massacred with impunity? Does Igbo life not matter to anybody?
You can easily see why the young men of Igboland and indeed Biafra are very disconnected from the Nigerian state and very unhappy. The evils perpetrated by the Nigerian state against the Igbo people and Biafra are many. Biafra yes and there is nothing strange or new about that name. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to come to our part of the world in the 14th Century. When they came, they met a vast stretch of land referred to as Biafra. Biafra stretched from the confluence of Rivers Niger and Benue to the North, the Kumba Region in Western Cameroon to the East, the Atlantic Ocean and Equatorial Guinea to the South and the land inhabited by the Yoruba tribe to the West. They called the Gulf they discovered there the Gulf of Biafra. This Gulf guided explorers for centuries. Gowon and Obasanjo renamed it as the Gulf of Bonny to their eternal shame. This brief history explains why the Portuguese sided with Biafra, truth and justice in 1967 notwithstanding the odds against Biafra.
As matters stand, Igbos are fearful for their lives outside Eastern Nigeria. Even in Igboland, Fulani herdsmen are threatening to attack at anytime. Simultaneously, the Nigerian Army are threatening to resume their invasion of Igboland. At present, Igbos are completely at the mercy of of these Fulani soldiers. Igbos have no protection whatsoever. The determination of the Fulani to takeover Igboland with maximum force, seize our lands and Islamise us is real and in full gear. This same Fulani people have had this agenda of conquest all along while we were fooled and cajoled into believing in One Nigeria.
Both you and I must express our appreciation to our youth represented by IPOB for the peace and decorum with which they have conducted themselves. There is hardly a country where they are not represented and yet not one incident or violence has been reported over the years notwithstanding very serious provocation by Nigerian security forces, police and unprovoked attack by the military against IPOB and its Leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in which so many people were massacred and himself and his elderly parents taken to unknown destinations till this day.
It is sad to note that neither yourself nor the leadership of Ohaneze raised any voice to protect your children from cold blooded massacre. Instead, you maintained your silence which could easily be interpreted as a tacit support for the massacre. I was personally shocked at your silence and the silence of the governors of the so called South East. That alone amounted to an abomination in Igboland, to be seen to side with the murderers of hundreds of your children. To make a terrible situation unbearable, the same Nigerian Army invited you and the governors to a meeting in Enugu which issued a statement that IPOB had been proscribed. This was too insensitive.
You can see why the young men and women are unhappy with the role Ohaneze has played or neglected to play. It is not enough that you love the Igbo. You must be seen by your actions that you love the Igbo.
When Lord Harcourt and Lord Lugard amalgamated Northern and Southern Nigeria on 1st January 1914, it was for British Colonial convenience and their desire to pass the financial burden of running Northern Nigeria to Southern Nigeria since Northern Nigeria had nothing. That burden has now continued for one hundred and four years. Is that state of affairs going to continue indefinitely? Would the North have accepted Amalgamation for this long if the parasitic relationship was reversed? In any event, the Amalgamation Proclamation itself stated that it would last for one hundred years. That period expired on 1st January 2014. Therefore, morally, legally and in every respect, our people have a right to demand Independence.
It is unhelpful that the Fulani and their misguided supporters believe that brute force can be used to hold seventy million people down and keep us in Nigeria against our will. We have contributed more than any other group to make One Nigeria work. We have lost six and a half million people to make One Nigeria work. But One Nigeria is not working. One Nigeria has never worked. One Nigeria will never work. The reason is simply because the Fulani idea of One Nigeria is totally different from our own idea of One Nigeria.
The Fulani think and have declared in no uncertain terms and acts that One Nigeria means one Nigeria that they have conquered from the Sahel to the Atlantic. To the Fulani, One Nigeria means unfettered access to our ancient ancestral lands to build new Fulani cities, instal their Emir and subjugate the native population to the Sokoto Caliphate and replace Christianity with Islam and our legal system with Sharia Law. That is their idea of One Nigeria and it does not in any way resemble our idea of One Nigeria. The Fulani will never give up this vision. They see Igboland as the only obstacle they have to the sea. They are impatient to conquer Igboland and invite the Fulani Confraternity in West Africa to come and join them in their latest conquest.
You are a learned man Chief Nwodo. You understand these matters. You know that is what they did in Hausa land and completely destroyed Hausa identity. They did the same in Kwara. These things are historical facts.
Now, Chief Nwodo, do you want Igboland to be the next? You can easily see that the consequences of what is happening today are too far reaching to be taken lightly or to be reduced to talk about your image and reputation and how they are being ‘tarnished’ by IPOB. I wouldn’t mind my image tarnished a thousand times if my people become free in the process.
Chief Nwodo, there was a time Igbo people could consider restructuring but that time has passed. It would be suicidal to consider that option when we have become fully aware of the Fulani Agenda of Conquest. That option will merely buy a little time and postpone the days of evil being unleashed upon our children.
What the Igbo people want is the ability to protect our frontiers, to protect our territorial waters, to protect our airspace, to make our own laws, to practice the religion of our choice, to decide the content of the education our children receive, to take responsibility for the infrastructural development of Igboland and to decide who our external friends would be. We just want to be free. What is so terrible about that?
So many nations have divided along homogeneous lines and released all the energy previously consumed by distrust, hate, rivalry and endless conflict. Our case is not unique in any way. Self determination is a sacred article of the United Nations Charter. We the people of Igboland and Biafra have decided to invoke that Article and assert our rights under it. I am mindful of your declaration in Lagos in 2017 to fight against this Objective.
As the name Ohaneze implies, the Oha comes first before the Eze. In Igboland, the Eze follows the people unlike in some other cultures. What you consider right has become so radically opposed to what your people want. Even God told Samuel to listen to the people of Israel and give them what they wanted, that is, a king. You have already given our people your best. You must do the honourable thing now and step aside forthwith with your entire executive. A new Igbo leadership is urgently needed to steer the Igbo ship during these turbulent times. That new leadership must unite behind IPOB because the Igbo people need to speak with one voice.
Chief Sir Barrister Onyekachi Agwu