Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is to inform you that the Invasion of Alaigbo by the Nigerian Army which began on the 8th of September, 2017 aborted the formal announcement of the withdrawal of the campaign of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) against the holding of November 18th Election in Anambra State.
To appreciate what had happened, I would like to put this unfortunate event in a proper historical perspective so that the world can appreciate the pains which we all feel over the on-going tragic slaughter and humiliation of innocent unarmed Igbo youth.
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), is a corporate non-governmental organization founded after the 2014 International Colloquium on the Igbo Question in Nigeria, Before, During and After Biafra. To those who may not be sure why the Colloquium had such a title, we say to them, events, particularly since the invasion of Alaigbo by the Nigeria Army on the 13th of September provides an answer.
“That Colloquium was indeed a major global event that attracted many of the best minds in the Igbo nation, many of whom came from the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Ghana, etc. For three days, the well-over two thousand, five hundred (2,500) Igbo sons and daughters deliberated over the persistent century-old predicament of Ndigbo in Nigeria, over which all and sundry in Igbo-land, youths and elders, men and women, at home and in the Diaspora, keep groaning day after day, month after month, year after year.”
“The participants intensely examined ways and means of overcoming such persistent Igbo predicament so that her citizens can live a life of dignity and self-confidence, co-exist and live at peace with their neighbors, capable of protecting their lives as well as their collective and individual interests, apply their God-given talents and endowments for the betterment of themselves and the entire human race, do honor to the spirit of their ancestors and serve their God without let or hindrance.”
Since its formation, ADF has relentlessly pursued a democratic policy and programs of action aimed at reinventing the Igbo Nation, helping to promote the Rebuilding and Development of the Igbo Nation and the Rebirth and Advancement of the Spirit of her Culture and Civilization.
The Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB)
When the activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) became more focal, the ADF leadership held several meetings culminating in its Elders Consultative Forum held at Enugu on March 29, 2016, where the IPOB phenomenom was fully discussed. To leave nobody in doubt, at that particular meeting of the ADF, we had in attendance, several clergy men (about six Archbishops and Bishops),, several Traditional leaders some of whom included Chairmen of State traditional Rulers Councils, former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, leading Businessmen, frontline Igbo academics including former Vice Chancellors, Professors, eminent politicians, women and youth leaders.
After serious deliberations, ADF came to the conclusion that the IPOB was a serious organization pursuing a non-violent struggle for Self-Determination. ADF is aware that the campaign of Self-Determination is a form of struggle that is very common in the history of the crises-ridden Federal Republic of Nigeria. What he IPOB has been doing was no different from what the Odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) had done, or what the Niger Delta militants have been doing, and above all it was similar to what the Boko Haram which General Mohammadu Buhari and other Arewa leaders had patronized before ISIS hijacked it from their warm embrace.
But Ladies and Gentlemen, from all evidence made available to ADF at that meeting, the activities of IPOB was uniquely different from the others because, IPOB members carried no weapons and engaged in no acts of violence.
ADF, therefore, issued a Communique, condemning the discriminatoy, hostile and brutal attitude of the Federal Government under President Buhari’s leadership, and urged the Government to enter into negotiation with the leadership of IOB instead of using the Nigerian army and security forces to decimate them.
The Government ignored this advice and similar advice from other well-meaning people in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Government also continued to flagrantly disobey the order of the Federal High Courts for the unconditional release of the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other IPOB members held in detention.
The ADF Elders Forum decided to send a delegation to visit Nnamdi Kanu and his colleagues where they were being held at the Kuje prison to find out their condition in prison.
That initiative of ADF spurred other patriotic organizations and individuals to pay them a visit in prison. The ensuring public pressure led to what unfortunately became a most embarrassing bail condition in history.
After his release, Nnamdi Kanu visited to thank ADF at a meeting where again several eminent elders were present, including Dr Dozie Ikedife, a former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and one who had received alot of bashing from Nnamdi Kanu and the angry youths in IPOB. Dr Ikedife was very magnanimous, exhibited a spirit of tolerance nurtured in one born with a democratic and liberal background. We had, at the meeting, chided Mazi Nnamdi Kanu against the use of caustic language and urged him to refrain from such that does not contribute to the struggle for self-determination. We urged him to maintain the non-violent path. He showed humility and respect for the Elders.
About the middle of July, we heard about the ferocious non-election-in-Anambra campaign of the IPOB. I called him on behalf f ADF and told him firmly to pull back from such a position, stressing that it was counter-productive and would harm the interest of Ndigbo, IPOB and even ADF on whose behalf I was giving him the advice. At the end he said to me “Nnanyi Ukwu, if ADF calls us to a meeting we can discuss this and pull back from that position”
As we were almost on our way to a planned overseas delegation, we agreed to meet after our return,
On August 28th we met with him at Owerri and had deliberations on the Anambra election insisting that IPOB should withdraw its campaign against the Election. In reacting pleaded with u he pleaded with us to allow him invite some other IPOB leaders before they could make a final decision. On ou insistence he assured us that IPOB members would not be on the streets during the Anambra Election nor would they use force to disrupt the election,
On September 4th we met again. This time he brought some IPOB leaders in the Diaspora. One came from the United States, another from Germany and so on. We spent over three hours with them, It was like a workshop, touching on several issues that we considered negative in their utterance. For example, we cautioned him to make sure IPOB does not make any negative references on the religious faith of other people, while conceding him the right to practice Judaism if that is his faith, We cautioned him against any negative references to the leadership of any ethnic group, against speaking on behalf of any ethnic group and to allow each ethnic group to decide whether they will or will not belong to Biafra.
On the question, of which way for Ndigbo, there are two possible ways it could be democratically decided. One is Referendum the other is through Election. He explained why IPOB does not believe in election in Nigeria, that it will always be rigged like Ojukwu was rugged out.
We explained to him that the Biafra leader lost to Dr Onwudiwe, because of the platform on which he ran for that election, We emphasized that Chief Ojukwu could not have lost the election if he was in the NPP at that time.
We touched on several other things, including the essence and dangers of the cult figure he was enjoying, its advantages in any struggle as well as its dangers for both himself and the people. We drew his attention and that of his colleagues to the pages of Igbo history and show that Zik had once enjoyed a far greater cult-like influence. So did Ikemba Nnewi, We showed him at what point both Zik and the Ikemba had fallen from their Olympian Heights because they lost favor with the people – in the case of Zik, when he left Biafra for Nigeria during the war, in the case of the Ikemba when on his return from exile, he joined the NPN, Both were also lucky to have regained a good deal of their cult-like leadership in Igboland –Zik when he returned and led the NPP and in the case of Ikemba when identified with and became patron of both MASSOB and UPGA, all of which were regarded at the time to have been instruments of the Igbo struggle.
Ladies and gentlemen, you can see what I mean when I said our last meeting was like a workshop. At the end they asked us to allow them to go and deliberate and bring us their final decision.
On the 6th of September, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu called and said to me “Nnanyi Ukwu, ADF can now make arrangements for the announcement that IPOB had agreed to withdraw their opposition to election in Anambra State. I congratulated him and his colleagues..
However, I told him we should hold a joint- Press Conference on Tuesday being September12th. Unfortunately, and tragically unfortunately, the following two days we read that the Nigerian army had commenced their invasion and occupation of Alaigbo.
Kanu called again to say “Nnanyi Ukwu, I think we should hold on with the announcement of IPOB new position, so that no-one will say that we have withdrawn because of the military operations that have begun in Igboland.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the rest is now history.
It is necessary to inform you that ADF has instituted a case in the Federal High Court, in Enugu challenging the constitutionality of the on-going brutal military operations in Alaigbo, code named PYTHON DANCE – EGWU EKE which is aimed at humiliating Ndigbo and, if possible, render them politically and economically impotent. Some have called it ethnic and religious cleansing. For us it is unconstitutional and marks the commencement of full-blown fascism in Nigeria which every lover of democracy and freedom should resist.
The so-called banning of the activities of IPOB as well as the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization are acts of desperation that are being challenged first in the Nigerian Courts, The authority of the International legal system is to be fully invoked in the current struggle of Ndigbo.
Finally, I think Ndigbo should hold all those who have participated in the planning and endorsement of this invasion and the ensuing killings, torture and humiliation of unarmed and innocent youth and the entire Igbo race accountable.
PROF T. UZODINMA NWALA
September 23, 2017