These are not the best of times for the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a pro-Biafra secessionist group founded by Nnamdi Kanu. IPOB's aim is to actualise the independence of Biafra within the shortest possible time.
Under the current administration, IPOB protesters have been heavily clamped down by security forces in the country. A few weeks ago, we reported how IPOB protesters clashed with members of the Department of State Services in Enugu state. It was bloody.
Since the clash, an IPOB member known as Mazi Ofornedu Okoafor has remained in detention even though he needs urgent medical attention. According to Daily Post, the Enugu state police command and soldiers picked up Okoafor alongside his grandfather on August 23rd, 2020, while receiving treatment at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in the State.
We cannot authenticate this news at this time. However, the paper reports that IPOB has issued a strong warning to the police in the state. The group threatened that should anything befall Okoafor while in detention, the police and security agencies in the state would pay very dearly for it.
A statement released by IPOB reads in part: “We the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) condemn in the strongest possible terms the continued inhumane, illegal and immoral detention of Mazi Ofornedu Okoafor who was abducted with his grandfather at the (UNTH) Enugu where he was receiving medical treatment for bullet wounds inflicted on him by the same Nigerian Police and soldiers on the 23rd of August 2020 at Emene in Enugu State.
“Why an innocent man, grievously injured by the police, should be chained to the floor in a police cell rather than receiving treatment in a hospital defies logic and common sense. This brand of Janjaweed policing should be condemned by every right thinking person.”
This writer would hate so much to give the impression that he is either a supporter or an opponent of the clamour for the secession of Biafra. That's not the intention. The fact however is there is an underlying problem behind all of these unfortunate experiences with IPOB.
For the umpteenth time, the writer will like to say that the Igbos have a genuine reason to feel marginalised from the Nigerian commonwealth. They have never produced a head of state since Aguiyi Ironsi. They feel politically incapacitated in their own country.
Instead of deploying a battalion to clamp down on them, why not just have a dialogue with them? Without this, IPOB would remain to be a protest group. Without dialoguing with IPOB and the Igbos at large, we may be setting the stage for another civil war in Nigeria.