S’East in throes of conflicting commands from Kanu, Ekpa, and Biafra agenda
There are feelings that the drumbeat for sit-at-home in the southeast region for the release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has become incoherent, producing different sounds for the dancers.
Kanu, the supposed beneficiary of the series of the sit-at-home orders in the region had last week ordered a stop to it. But the enforcers of the orders, led by one of his disciples based in Finland, Simeon Ekpa, has mounted a resistance and queried the rationale for Kanu’s position; a development now unsettling the Movement, their leadership and objectives.
Kanu had last Friday, through his Special Counsel, Aloy Ejimakor, asked Ekpa to stop ordering sit-at-home in the region. In a handwritten note dated July 24, directed to Ekpa, which has now become contentious and which Ejimakor read and presented to journalists in Enugu, Kanu had unequivocally stated that anyone henceforth engaging in sit-at-home was no longer his disciple.
“Simeon, this is a direct order from me. I hereby instruct you to desist from calling for any sit-at-home henceforth. Equally, refrain from antagonising governors or persons in political positions because you are not in a position to know what they are doing on my behalf. I am ordering you to make a public announcement to the effect that you are in receipt of a direct order from me to cancel any pending sit-at-home in place at the moment.
I embarked on this movement to liberate our people not to enslave them. I despise and will despise any person or entity that wishes to inflict unnecessary hardship on our people. I have authorised Aloy to issue a press statement if you fail to make this announcement on your platform,” the note to Ekpa read in part.
No sooner had the handwritten note been made public than Ekpa disputed it. Ekpa, who had announced a two-week sit-at-home in the region, beginning from July 31, 2023, had asked the public to disregard the letter, alleging that it was cooked up by security officials to deceive the public and reduce the potency of the sit-at-home exercise.
He had insisted that the fresh call for two weeks sit-at-home would not be dimmed by the handwritten note. He said the letter was the handiwork of mischief makers who do not want Biafra liberation. In one of the videos he posted online, he had told his adherents that the two-week sit-at-home must go on “to cripple the economy of Nigeria; to announce to the rest of the country that the people don’t have confidence in those occupying government offices in the region; to ensure freedom for Kanu” as well as convince the world about the readiness of Biafra to exit Nigeria,” among others.
And to buttress his seriousness in continuing with the illegal orders, Ekpa, who had pronounced himself “Prime Minister of Biafra Republic Government in Exile (BRGIE),” dismissed the letter as “fake,” saying it was not only a joke but an insult taken too far. He declared that the struggle was alive and unquenchable.
The Guardian recalls that since Nnamdi Kanu was moved into custody in 2021, all the civil disobedience in the southeast region, especially the sit-at-home introduced by proponents of the Biafra Agenda had presumably been targeted at ensuring his release.
Residents of the region had been forced to sit-at-home every Monday and any other day Biafra irredentists called for such. To the enforcers, it was the only tool that could make the federal government and other world governments understand the feelings of the region about exiting from the rest of the country.
Not less than 105 Mondays had been observed as sit-at-home since then, aside from other days declared. The effects had been devastating with a shrinking economy, attendant job losses, increased insecurity and social vices, among others. Experts had put revenue loss of the region within the period to over seven trillion naira and still counting.
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo had rued the impact of the sit-at-home, declaring that over 250 lives had been lost through the enforcement of the order since it started in August 2021.
President General of the organization, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu had further stated that the development had created hardships, with property worth millions of Naira destroyed, adding that fear and trepidation now rules the lives of the people of the region.
“It is very disturbing that at a time the Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide is engaging the Igbo entrepreneurs all over the world, on a think-home philosophy, a foreign-based Igbo is bent on destabilising the home front. It is evident that the series of sit-at-home order is affecting the social and economic life of Igbos. Surely, it is not to the advantage of the Igbos,” he had said
It was in an apparent insensitivity to the plight of the people and complaints against the continuation of the exercise that Ekpa announced the new two-week sit-at-home, coming few days after the residents were forced to stay in doors for one week. His insistence that the fresh order would hold irrespective of what Kanu was saying in the letter began to raise dusts about who really he is working for and the reality about the allegation that he had been bought to decimate the Igbo people and their economy.
Perturbed by the negative toga Ekpa had introduced into the letter, the IPOB, through its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, had waded in, accusing him of being “groomed to destroy IPOB,” stressing that his claim that Kanu’s letter was fake “is part of their mischief to continue in their contract to blackmail IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu with their violent enforcement of sit-at-home.”
Powerful noted that in line with the principle of command and control, the IPOB that initiated the Monday sit-at-home in protest of the “abduction and rendition” of Kanu to make sure that the Nigerian government arraigned him openly in a public court had long suspended the order.
Meanwhile, reacting to the fuss on the handwritten letter by Kanu, some pro-Biafra groups last Sunday cautioned Ekpa to come clean and accept the reality that his mishandling of the struggle had given rise to it, stressing that Kanu was the real author of the letter.
Kanu’s former Chief of Staff and Director General, De Biafra Mobilizers Initiative, Comrade Rita Eberechukwu Anigbogu, told The Guardian that she believed that Kanu authored the letter.
“Having known Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and having worked closely with him for several years, I know his style of writing. I know his handwriting; I know his language and command of English. The letter that Barrister Aloysius Ejimakor presented to the press is very authentic and is from Nnamdi Kanu. Anyone claiming otherwise is doing so for ulterior motives, which time and Chukwu Okike Abiama will expose,” she stated.
Mrs Anigbogu, popularly called Ada Biafra by her admirers, insisted that Kanu, by the handwritten note, may have realised the futility in his earlier belief that Biafra could be realised by violence, stressing that realising Biafra required a political approach and dialogue.
“Biafra is a political matter, both International and National, and Nnamdi has realised that we have to work with the political leaders of Igboland to make a successful case for Biafra. Ekpa should cease and listen to voices of reason,” she said.
‘Insisting that residents must ensure an end to sit-at-home by embracing their daily legitimate activities, she added: “We have our parents who depend on daily proceeds to feed their children. What about pregnant women that will go into labour on Mondays? They cannot be attended to in the hospitals because we are sitting at home. What about our brothers and sisters that may have health emergencies maybe on Sunday night or on Monday and they cannot access hospitals? What if you have a life and death need for money, and you cannot go to the bank?
“Nnamdi Kanu has seen that sit-at-home will do us terrible harm and that is why he is demanding for a total end to it. It beats our imagination that anyone with Biafra blood running in his veins would contemplate a continuation of the Monday sit-at-home and worse still, asking a region to sit-at-home for two full weeks. Who is that person really working for?”
Executive Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Ibuchukwu Ezike, had however, blamed the fuss over the handwritten letter to breakdown in communication between Kanu and Ekpa, stressing however, that any other person, as second-in-command could have reacted the way he (Ekpa) did if he fails to get orders directly from his boss.
Ezike added; “I think the bone of contention here is that there is no direct communication between Onyendu Nnamdi Kanu and Simon Ekpa. And so, there is a gross suspicion by Ekpa against the background of what information that is being passed to him or the entire organisation by third parties.
“There is a story being told by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe that when they visited Kanu in DSS detention in Abuja, he told them that the sit-at-home order should stop in Alaigbo (i.e South East region) and environs. The second theory about this cessation of the sit-at-home thing in the South East is that Kanu wrote a note, directing that IPOB stops the sit-at-home protest. Nobody has told us that they allowed Onyendu Kanu to speak with Ekpa, his second-in-command or are those who are telling us all this mean that it is impossible for the two IPOB leaders to talk directly, like using WhatsApp discussions where they would see themselves.
Why these concoctions is because it is difficult for most Nigerians to believe these corrupt, lawless and insincere politicians who speak from the two sides of their mouths.
“Secondly, the reason for which this sit-at-home protest is being hosted – the unlawful detention of Nnamdi Kanu – is still in force. Kanu is still being detained under torturous conditions and has been refused access to his family and the world for so long a time without genuine reasons except that he is Igbo and demanding an end to Igbo marginalisation or freedom for Ndiigbo to leave Nigeria. Is this just demand a crime if I may ask? So, I think that, honestly, this is why Ekpa has refused to buy into the argument of those who are saying that Kanu said or wrote.
“It is easy to suspend this protest if our rulers are honest and truly want to achieve it. The South East governors are not serious in trying to stop or end the sit-at-home protest in the South East. They think that the use of force to arrest the situation will work. Where in the world has anyone used force to end guerilla warfare? Prof Charles Soludo of Anambra State tried it. Did he tell the story? In Imo state, is Hope Uzodimma finding it easy? And without learning from history, Peter Mbah of Enugu State came to demonstrate that he is a strong and stubborn man and ended up causing the loss of life of a young man.
“Rather than embark on peaceful negotiations with the justly aggrieved boys, the governors of the South East are resorting to the use of force that cannot work, all in a bid to impress their pay masters in Abuja and dubiously enrich themselves and the heads of the military and other security agencies in the region like the Police, DSS, Civil Defence etc.
“We are not convinced that there was a genuine process by the State to end the sit-at-home protest and restore lasting peace to the South East. The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) appeals to IPOB leadership to disregard the concoctions of the politicians and begin to consider the option of ceasing fire and returning peace to the region in the interest of the people that they are protecting and defending”
Although the governors of the region mobilized against the continued sit-at-home in the region and reinforced confidence with the letter from Kanu, Ezike, however, faulted them for failing to hold what he described as “genuine and frank discussions” with the leaders of the pro-Biafran movements since the sit-at-home started.
“You will recall that there was once the rise of the Militants in the Niger Delta and Odu’a Peoples Congress (OPC) in the South West whose actions and operations were deadlier and more dangerous than those of the pro-Biafran movements? Did they use force to quell them? With discussions with the federal government in the case of the Militants during late Comrade Umaru Yar’dua’s era, the matter was resolved and peace returned to the Niger Delta. The South West governors also went into frank discussions with the OPC leaders and were able to sort out the issue. OPC became the official security network of the South West. Their leaders, late Dr. Fredrick Fasheun and Otumba Ganiyu Adams were duly recognised as great Yoruba leaders. Adams was trained as a graduate at LASU and today, he is the Aare Onakakanfo (Warlord) of the Yoruba nation. Can you see the difference?
“When Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo, the Chancellor of Eastern Mandate Union (EMU), was alive, we (him and I) called a meeting of the leaders of these pro-Biafran movements at the Chancery in Enugwu in 2016 and had useful discussions with them. Before, they used to embark on violent protests to mark Biafran Day but from 2017, they started using seminars and workshops to mark the Day. Every last Tuesday of the month, we used to meet at the EMU Chancery from 8am to dawn till Dr. Nwankwo passed on in February, 2020.
“That was our little effort. Can’t the governors and political rulers in the region do more? The boys are not spirits. They are reachable. The problem is the manner of approach and attitude with which you approach them,” Ezike argued.
But pro-Biafra canvassers, the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) maintains that the feud over the letter on sit-at-home between Kanu and Ekpa would not dampen or jeopardise the self-determination struggle for Biafra actualisation and restoration.
MASSOB Leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu stated that the feud was not as devastating as being projected, stressing that it was also not irreconcilable. He stated that the proponents are focused and determined in their efforts for emancipation of Biafra people.
“The misunderstanding that led to the feud between Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Mazi Simeon Ekpa is reconcilable. It can never jeopardize or mesmerize the self-determination struggle for Biafra actualization and restoration. Biafra Revolution is indestructive because God, Humanity and History are on our side,” Madu enthused.
Leader of the Emancipators’ Struggle, Dim Okagbuo, also stated that realization of Biafra did not revolve around the IPOB, stressing that, “Biafra has become our way of life and inbuilt. There is no human being that can destroy it. It is something that will happen with time and all the groups have their various ways of carrying out the campaigns. So we are upbeat, and we are not relenting.”
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