|Activists of the IPOB and the Biafran flag, May 28, 2017, in Aba.|
This Tuesday, May 30 marks the 50th anniversary of Biafra’s unilateral declaration of independence. This region of southeastern Nigeria was the scene of a violent civil war from 1967 to 1970. Today, the climate remains tense and the secessionist discourses resurface.
Car parked in a car park in Enugu, the former capital of the late Biafra Republic, Rita Anigbogu is with its closest militants. She puts on her phone. She is the head of the Biafran Movement in Nigeria, the MOBIN.
Among the separatist movements that are emerging again in the region, MOBIN is the latest. He chose to go on the electoral ground to defend pro-independence candidates. It defines a strategy, in a context where the Nigerian authorities are sealed in any dialogue including the word “secession”.
Rita Anigbogu had to go to a debate with intellectuals. The meeting was to be held in Abakaliki, in the State of Ebonyi. By car, it’s an hour’s drive from Enugu. But there is an impediment.
“One of our members was on site in advance. He sent SMS to tell us not to come yet. It’s because of the local governor. He sent the henchmen, “assures the head of MOBIN. A habit, she said.
“Every time we gather to educate our people, raise awareness or mobilize them, the Nigerian authorities send their police and soldiers. They come and shoot us. They come and kill us, “says Rita Anigbogu.
“The government does not want to hear about Biafra. More than 500 Biafrans have been killed in recent years and it is silence on this issue, absolute silence, “she said. For the past two years, Amnesty International has documented this situation in various reports, testimonies, and photos.
” We advise young girls and boys to stay away from street demonstrations. Preserve your lives, exhorts ThankGod Ofoelue, a spokesman for the pro-Biafran organization. That is why they are asked not to demonstrate and we solemnly declare this May 30th as a public holiday. “
Still in the car in Enugu, the two members of the pro-Biafra movement resume their telephone. They remind their members and sympathizers to warn them of the cancellation of the meeting.
A cry against marginalization
The Biafran Movement in Nigeria is an offshoot of the independence movement for the indigenous peoples of Biafra, IPOB. This is the organization of Nnamdi Kanu, released early May.
MOBIN members want to gain the power to give more space to the Igbo people, Nigeria’s third largest cultural group behind the Hausa-Fulanis and the Yorubas.
” You have seen the road coming: nowhere are there good federal roads in the Biafra. There is no electricity. By staying at the hotel, you can not realize it. It’s been a couple of weeks since we’ve been out there, “he said.
Difficult to bring the contradiction to ThankGod Ofoelue. The militant of the Biafran movement in Nigeria has only one goal:
” We, as a people, will take by storm the political landscape in the territory of Biafra. We are preparing our Biafran compatriots. They have to start being ready. Because we are going to arrive, we are in full ascension “he assures.
Few people dare to be out loud on the streets of Enugu. Difficult therefore to say whether this speech type is common in the region.
Ennyinnya Arabire is a senator of the PDP, the main opposition party. A zealous advocate of the Federal Republic, on the other hand, he understood the motivations of the pro-Biafarian militants.
” It is a cry against marginalization. It is a cry against the lack of equal opportunities. It is a cry against the maltreatment of which they feel themselves, victims, “he explains.
” What we want to do is ask Nigerians to listen to the plight of these activists. Solving their problems would be really beneficial to all of us in Nigeria. Senator Arabire was a determining factor a month ago in the release of Nnamdi Kanu, radio director Biafra.
This Tuesday, May 30, 2017, is the “dead city” day in Onitsha and Aba, two towns in the southeast that commemorate the proclamation of independence of Biafra. But 50 years ago, everything started from Enugu. The Igbos communities, meeting in the Eastern Consultative Council, express their frustration at the new structure of the federal state, which deprives them of their petroleum resources in a very tense ethnoreligious context.
On May 30, 1967, Lieutenant-Colonel Emeka Ojuku proclaimed the independence of the region and the birth of the “Republic of Biafra”. Enugu is the capital. Lagos, which is then the Nigerian capital, declares the state emergency. The southeast of the country sinks into the civil war. The federal state imposes a blockade on this separatist region, causing famine. The separatist aspirations are stifled by the federal army, better equipped than the separatists.
The feeling of injustice seems to have been transmitted from one generation to the next. Lack of infrastructure, poor distribution of oil revenues, low representation in government posts … some Igbos communities still feel aggrieved. Radio Biafra and two organizations channeled their anger. But the subject remains taboo and harshly repressed by the federal state. Last year, more than 150 people were arrested during the celebrations of this anniversary.