Mrs Eberechukwu Anigbogu, fondly called Ada Biafra is the Director General of Movement of Biafrans in Nigeria. In this Interview with OGINE VICTOR AFAM, she speaks on the state of Biafra agitation, the misconception of the government about the people of Biafra.
What is your reaction to the branding of the IPOB group as a “terrorist group” by the Defence Headquarters.
The truth is that IPOB is not a group, that is where the Federal government has been getting it wrong. I have heard people calling us Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) but that is not it. IPOB is an acronym for Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), so you will now realize that IPOB is not a group but a people, just as we have the Yoruba as Oduduwa and the Hausa as Arewa, so also we have the Igbo as Biafra. You know we fought war with Nigeria and that is Nigeria-Biafra war of 1967-1970. After that war, we had problems because we lost. But the quest that made us fight that war is still what we are reawakening now. So, we are Biafran who are trapped in Nigeria. The fact I must make people to understand is that Biafra existed before Nigeria. Then, we have been leaving as happy people before the advent of the Europeans who merged the northern and the southern protectorates together to coexist as one. But to be candid with you, Sir Lord Lugard made a statement before he died and he said and I quote “the coming together of the Northern and Southern protectorates was like water and oil that cannot mix.” That means they knew we could not coexist forever as a country. Biafrans for a long time has not enjoyed freedom in Nigeria that is simply what we are asking from the Nigeria’s Government to give to us. So, for anyone to say that the Indigenous People of Biafra is a terrorist organisation, shows that they don’t really understand us because we are not an Organisation, but a people.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State recently branded the call for an independent country of Biafra as a “child’s play”, because you don’t have the support of any notable Igbo personality or governor championing your agitation.
Don’t you think this is sending a wrong signal to the rest of the world that the Ndigbo are not united in their fight for a sovereign state?
Okorocha by every indication is not a Biafran. He may be a Biafran by birth, but by every other things, Okorocha has never acted as a true son of Biafra. You know his mother is a Northerner and he was born and brought up in the North. But he found his way into the political space of our land, that was what gave him the audacity and the impunity to say that the quest of Biafra sovereignty is a child’s play or that Nnamdi Kanu who has been at the fore-front of this agitation is a small boy. That makes him Okorocha a small boy, a very small boy for that matter. So, what he said does not matter to us because we know where the like of Okorocha are coming from and where they are going to. That is why we Biafrans have made up our minds that in 2019, we are going to vote them away from power and from our land.
But the Governors Forum still came out to oppose the activities of Biafra in the region, who then can we now categorise as Biafrans if all your leaders are denying your legitimacy.
The truth is that we’ve never had it right as far as politics is concerned in Biafra land. You see these Governors from Anambra to Abia, Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi are all there in government as a reason of their selection by the Hausa/ Fulani people and not by election, and that is why the Governors represent the interest of the Hausa. They don’t represent the interest of the Ndigbo. Even when they organize election, we don’t see the true outcome because they’ve already done the selection process. So, you find out that these governors are working for the interest of the Northerners.
So, who are then the leaders of the Biafrans, if none of these governors are fighting for Biafra?
We’ve got notable leaders who are fighting for the cause of an independent Biafran.
Who are these people, or can we say they are faceless or afraid to come out for us to know them?
Let me give you a brief history of the Biafran Nation, because so many people believe that Nnamdi Kanu is the leader of IPOB, but that is not true. Nnamdi Kanu happens to be the Director of the Radio Biafra. At the inception of this agitation after the fall of Uwazurike and MASSOB, some Biafran lawyers came together to chart out a way through which they can give the agitation both an international and National recognition. Notable among these lawyers is Barrister Chukwuemeka Esiri. It was this Emeka that mobilized other Biafrans living in London to sue Nigeria to court. For this to be possible, they had to form an Elders council which had the like of Dozie Ikedike, the late Odumegwu Ojukwu, some other Traditional rulers and elders to form the Supreme Council of Elders which is still in existence to date.
This council of elders was what took Nigeria to court and the suit number for this case is FHC/OW/CS/192/2013 and the need to now keep Biafrans abreast of proceedings in the court case was what gave birth to Radio Biafra with Nnamdi Kanu as Director. So, you can see that we are not out to war with Nigerian Government, because if that is the case, we will not take them to court. That’s why I can boldly declare that no Nigerian government can arrest me for anything because our case is still at the Federal High Court Owerri and for the record, the Federal government does not have the right to brand us a terrorist group because the judge in charge of the case, Mrs Binta has said that we are a legal group pending the time the final submission is made by the court of law.
Though the step taken by Nnamdi Kanu which is the preaching of hate speeches was greatly bemoaned by the elders, but because of his youthful vigour, he negated the elders’ call. But I want to tell you that the original IPOB wants to get this independence by the way of the law and International diplomacy and that is the path we are still treading.
Are you telling us now that we have different factions of the IPOB by way of Nnamdi Kanu’s stubbornness?
Yes there is a faction. We have two factions of the IPOB, one is headed by Nnamdi Kanu and another is under the Supreme Council of elders. That of Nnamdi Kanu says they are not ready for court while those of us who are with the Supreme Council of Elders said that we will follow due process even if it is going to take us 100 years to achieve.
What is the original IPOB faction of the supreme Council doing to tame the excessiveness of the Nnamdi Kanu Faction of the IPOB because I feel they are portraying the entire IPOB movement in bad light?
The Supreme Council has done much because as soon as Nnamdi Kanu was released, the elders called for an emergency meeting which everyone of us attended including Nnamdi Kanu. We were seriously cautioned, especially Nnamdi Kanu himself. But Nnamdi Kanu being who he is defiled the warnings. But I believe his doggedness for the actualization of our cause is what has led him to what he is doing now. Even when the Ohanaeze tried calling him to order, he still insisted on doing what he felt was right.
Now, from the Ndigbo perspective, what can you describe as restructuring?
I will answer that question from my own point of view because I have elders and customary leaders. So, If am to define restructuring, I will like to see a Nigeria where an Anambra man or an Enugu man will have to use what is embedded in the town to develop the land. I will want a Nigeria where I will be left to use what is left by my father to develop the land. Nigeria is only a state in the world where we don’t have a federating unit. I want a situation where the east will be competing with west and west with the north, this will help in developing everywhere in the nation.
On Yoruba submission
What Yoruba have submitted is what we are going to submit, because our own is coming up soon, and we are going to declare exactly what the Yoruba declared in Ibadan.
What is your message to Nnamdi Kanu faction of IPOB?
I want them to come back to the elders. They should come back to the authority of the Supreme council of elders. Even if it will take us 100 years to actualize our dream, it will definitely happen someday. Nnamdi Kanu and his followers should calm their nerves and apply caution in going about their agitation.
If Nnamdi Kanu happens to run for 2019 election, what will happen to the Biafra agitation?
It is not the presidency that we are looking for, it’s not our problem. We don’t even want to take part in politics of Nigeria, as we can survive under any condition. That’s why you see Ndigbo everywhere. What we are saying is that we want an enabling ground. We are not interested in presidency, we don’t need it, Nigeria is no more a nation; all we need from Nigeria is a referendum. Ndigbo don’t have hope in Nigeria, but we believe in Biafra. Kanu is like a microphone because if he talks, people listen. He’s an icon and that is why we have our radio station which is legally recognized.
You said IPOB is a faction, if IPOB gets this done, don’t you think there will be internal problem after its actualization.
There won’t be anything like that, because Nnamdi Kanu is like an errand boy; he was sent to go and evangelize to our people to preach the gospel of Biafra. So, after everything, the Supreme Council of Elders will take it up from there. Biafra is the most peaceful in the world, because we love one another. Expect a more unifying people of Biafra, nothing can divide us, they can’t stop us. One million Buhari cannot stop us from actualizing our goal. Our intention is to see that Biafra nation is being governed by a Biafran man; we don’t want war but we just want our country. We want a peaceful departure from Nigeria. We once fought a war and we don’t want to carry gun again, no matter the level of provocation; because we are peaceful nation. That is what we are known for everywhere in the world. We are builders, industrious and a nation builder.