Nnewi—The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has said that no amount of intimidation, harassment and blackmail will ever deter its leader Chief Ralph Uwazurike from dropping the agitation for the actualization of Biafran Republic.
This was disclosed by the Regional administrator for MASSOB, in Isu, Imo State, Prince Ogaraku Venatus in a statement made available to Vanguard.
“We have absolute confidence, trust, respect, and faith in our leader and father of the agitation for Biafra actualization Chief Ralph Uwazuruike’s leadership traits and strong conviction to actualize Biafra.
“We have also uncovered a planned move by some disgruntled Igbo politicians to stage anti-Biafra rally in Abuja. That move will fail and our leader Chief Uwazurike is not worried about such silly and selfish move by the people we understand have been paid heavily to do the protest.
“Chief Uwazurike has succeeded in telling the Federal Government of Nigeria that he does not mince words in his determination to achieve the Biafran state and equally expose the injustice done to Ndigbo. So, the politician whose interest is nothing more than money in their pockets cannot stop MASSOB or any other pro-Biafra group,”he said.
Prince Ogaraku also prayed that no evil plan intended to scuttle the Biafra struggle will succeed.
Restoration of Biafra
Similarly, another Igbo political group, Ndigbo United Assembly, NUA, yesterday, added its own voice in the on-going agitation for the restoration of Biafran state, saying that Biafra is on course.
Speaking to newsmen during a peaceful demonstration embarked upon by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, President-General of NUA, Comrade Peter Okala declared: “My take on the Biafran agitation is positive in the sense that our colonial masters knew our differences before making a contract of amalgamation to try if we could understand ourselves, but the fact remains that till date, the centre could not hold and the South East is still hated with passion by our Northern and South West brothers.”
Okala who is also a one-time governorship candidate of the National Conscience Party, NCP, in Anambra State asked: “Could you imagine Wole Soyinka using Igbo people to popularize his seminar topic in far away United States of America, where he was quoted as saying that Igbo people can only vote at the direction of their stomach? So, what kind of a hopeless statement from a so-called prominent citizen is that?
“In Nigeria today, if one is asked to name 100 most corrupt people in Nigeria who have emptied our treasury , hardly will an Igbo man be among them. But we are abused in every part of Nigeria as people, who could do anything to get money simply because the West is in control of the media and the North has partnered with them to marginalize the South-East.”
Okala also observed that the inabilty of political office holders in the South -East to join the pro-Biafra movement is not a crime because it may be a treason in Nigerian laws, but it’s the right of every person to choose an association or a country he or she should belong to and there is no law that will empower anyone or institution to stop it.”
Meantime, a coalition of civil society organizations based in the South-East geo-political zone has advised the Federal Government to stop chasing shadows by deploying huge state resources that should be put for good public use, into influencing and compromising some individuals and groups, in an attempt to quench the on-going agitations.
The group advised the federal government to rather look inwards critically so as to study and identify those issues that have remained unaddressed till date that resulted to the earth-shaking agitations in the South-East and the South-South zones.
The group said that trying to influence or compromise some individuals or groups would rather end up escalating the issue and possibly blowing same out of proportion and push agitators to a radical and uncontrollable end, which may lead to another round of insurgency.
In a press statement, yesterday in Onitsha, Anambra State, the groups stated that the Federal Government must be told in a clear terms that those being compromised and influenced to recant are not in control of the movement and millions of its supporters and sympathizers.
It added: “These sets of conformist individuals and groups have long disgraced themselves and lost touch with the mainstream grassroots of the South-East zone, which is why in a bid to justify crumbs federally received, they end up on the pages of newspapers with their faceless and mushroom groups.”
In the statement jointly signed on their behalf by Comrade Aloysius Attah, for CLO; Comrade Peter Onyegiri for Centre for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy; Comrade Samuel Njoku for Human Rights Club (a project of LRRDC); Comrade Justus Uche Ijeoma for Forum for Justice, Equity & Defence of Human Rights; Comrade Chike Umeh for Society Advocacy Watch Project; Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esq. for Anambra Human Rights Forum; Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi for Intersociety; Comrade Alex Olisa for Southeast Good Governance Forum and Eze Eluchie for: PADDI Foundation, the coalition said the first critical step is to withdraw all trumped up charges leveled against Citizen Nnamdi Kanu and to release him unconditionally with immediate effect from the DSS captivity.
According to the coalition, “A Nigeria of pluralism and democratic constitutionalism, equality and fairness with no distinction in theory and practice as to ethnicity, place of birth, education, sex, class, oligarchic or aristocratic background and religion is always a preferred option and can be safely described as a united Nigeria. But a Nigeria of the opposite remains the worst option, while assertion of right to independent statehood is its best alternative. This is because it is better to live free in a land flowing with poverty than to live buoyantly in a land shackled and manacled by chains of slavery and enslavement”.
It further added: “To assuage the earth-shaking agitations and placate the people of the Southeast zone, all the age-long structural imbalances must be redressed especially the country’s geopolitical imbalances including lopsidedness in the number of States, LGAs, Senatorial Districts, Federal Constituencies, Federal Roads, Fiscal Allocations and geopolitical compositions of the field formations and headships of the Army, Police, Air Force, Navy, DSS, NIA, FRSC, Prisons and Customs”.
“In the area of federal public office holders in Nigeria drawn from the six geopolitical zones, the Southeast zone is abysmally represented. For instance, no senior police officer from the zone is among the current heads of the country’s 12 Police Zonal Commands and the few serving AIGs from the zone have since gone on statutory retirement leaving the zone no known serving AIGs out of the country’s current Police AIGs of at least 22″.
“All these are owing to age-long deliberate policy designed to stunt their promotions and posting till in the twilight of their statutory retirements when they are given retirement promotions. The composition of CPs and AIGs’ cadres of the Nigeria Police Force is also grossly lopsided in fragrant breach of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. The same gross lopsided composition is the case in the Nigerian Custom, Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Prisons Service, the DSS, the NIA, Army, Navy and the Air Force.
“In the headships of SPUs, ATSs, SARS, Federal Highway Police, the Mobile Police and Border Police composition and headship in the Nigeria Police Force; same is the case; likewise the country’s federal Appeal and Federal High Court and Appeal and Supreme Court Judges and Justices in which the zone is acutely represented. The same gross lopsidedness and exclusion are the order of the day in federal ministers, directors, headships of federal executive bodies as well as Service Chiefs and other top non ministerial federal appointments”.
Drumming support for Buhari
However, a group of traders under the aegis of South East Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, SEAMATA, has disowned the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and their agitation and activities for the actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra.
Addressing newsmen yesterday in Onitsha, the traders through a statement signed by Chief Okwudili Ezenwanko and Honourable Temple Udeh, President General and Secretary General respectively, of SEAMATA, said they are constrained to react to the continuous calls for the closure of business in South east in protest and solidarity for actualization of Biafra agitators.
The news conference by the traders was attended by Chief Christian Nwabuani, Vice President, Abia state, Peter Obah, Financial Secretary, Ebonyi state, Elder Martin Inuozor, Treasurer, Imo State, Austin Onyia assistant Public Relations Officer, from Enugu State, including other officials from the five South East states of the zone.
SEAMATA said “the difficulties and hardship which the traders in particular and residents in general suffer during these protests has made the traders to direct that we react to the situation and development which is adversely affecting them”.
“The traders in the zone are therefore, disassociating themselves jointly and severally from the activities of these agitators, the invasion of markets and other business outfits and the destruction of private property of individuals like shops and vehicles in the name of pro Biafra protest is not only condemnable but also unacceptable.
“We are yet to understand the wisdom in the protest where the properties and other valuables belonging to Igbos are either vandalized or destroyed by the fellow Igbos in the name of Pro Biafra protest, when the hardship which the Igbos that relocated from North East in the wake of Boko Haram insurgency are passing through is still staring on our faces, and the agitators are calling on other doing their normal business in other parts of Nigeria to come back to South East.”
But reacting to the allegation of destruction of properties, shops and personal belonging of fellow Igbos, MASSOB factional National Director of Information, Comrade Uchenna challenged SEAMATA and their leadership to name and show evidence of anybody whether or not whose property has been destroyed since the protest started.
“Even the Police Divisions in Onitsha and Onitsha Area Command and their boss has confirmed that all the protest by Biafran agitators has been peaceful and it was reported by different media organization in and outside South East states including the ones at Abuja.
“Chief Ezenwankwo is not SEAMATA President General because at no time was he elected by South East traders, neither is he elected by Anambra traders as AMATAS President General, he and his groups he claim to head both in South East and Anambra State do not represent the Igbo or Anambra traders, but their pay masters, South East Governors and Anamnbra State Governor, who appointed them to collect revenues from traders for government of the respective states, with their own share included in the levies they collect.
“Those people who call themselves SEAMATA are South East Governors stooges, used in siphoning the traders, they are used to milk the traders dry in the name of revenue collection, most of them do not have shops in the markets.
“Most of the people that are demonstrating are traders who out of their love for Biafra willingly closed their shops to join in the agitation of Biafra and release of Nnamdi Kanu, Igbo traders for your information are not complaining about the closure of market which MASSOB or IPOB did not even direct.”
Also reacting, one of IPOB’s spokesmen, Mr. Emma Powerful, dismissed SEAMATA claim of destruction, saying that they are not recognized in Igbo land, adding that “we have been doing this protest in different parts of the world and the international community knows that we have been peaceful and civil in all we are doing,”.
Uwazuruike hosts Bianca
In another development, the Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike yesterday revealed that the movement has concluded arrangements to host important dignitaries at this year’s fourth annual ceremony marking the memorial anniversary of the late Biafra’s Head of State and Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
In a press statement issued to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra state on behalf of Uwazuruike, MASSOB’s Deputy National Director of Information, Chris Mocha, confirmed that already, wife of the late Ojukwu, Bianca; former Chief Security Adviser to late General Sani Abacha, former military Head of state, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Leader of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger-Delta, MEND, Alhaji Mujaheed Asari Dokubo have indicated their interest to attend the occasion.