By Onyiorah P. Chiduluemije
Since President Muhammdu Buhari assumed the mantle of leadership of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, the country has witnessed incessant killing of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for obviously no cause by security agents. More often, if the killing was not based on the falsehood that the IPOB members were the first to attack members of the Nigerian armed forces and as such had to be killed in return, it would be predicated on the spurious grounds that the hapless victims were obstructing the free flow of traffic and thus needed to be dealt with (which for the military entailed killing them) in order to clear the way for motorists and other road users.
Meanwhile, in all of these series of killings of peaceful protesters, the Buhari-led government is yet to come out with a single video record showing members of the Nigerian armed forces being killed by the pro-Biafra agitators.
But thus far, the reverse has always been the case in the aftermath of every peaceful protest duly organized by pro-Biafra agitators in Nigeria, all in pursuit of their legitimate demand for a sovereign state of Biafra. And besides the fact that thousands of members of this separatist group have been mowed down in their prime for merely thronging the streets of Nigeria in demand for self-determination as adequately guaranteed by international laws and practices, the Amnesty International recently had to lend its strong voice in total condemnation of the Nigerian government’s persistent and cruel clampdown and massacre of these unarmed and peaceful protesters.
According to this highly esteemed international body, no less than a hundred and fifty unarmed civilians belonging to the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra, were brutally murdered in cold blood using torture, live bullets and other weaponry by members of the Nigerian armed forces – during the Biafra Remembrance Day of May 30, 2016. And further to its graphic report titled Bullets Were Raining Everywhere, the Amnesty International’s findings clearly showed that the assertion that the peaceful protesters were the first to court the trouble and/or attack members of the Nigerian armed forces was neither here nor there. Strangely, as if the killing was not provoking enough, the same security forces had to even go extra miles invading churches at Onitsha and its environs in Anambra State of Nigeria in furtherance of their killing spree and the hacking of peaceful protesters who happened to be in or had sought refuge in these hallowed places of worship.
As it stands now, the people of Eastern Nigeria – comprising the Igbo and folks of the Niger-Delta region – are obviously not at war with the Nigerian state, unlike the case in Northern part of Nigeria where the terrorist Boko Haram sect is increasingly having a field day and upper hand in the raging war in the region, yet virtually all states within the Biafran enclave are at the moment more militarized and/or placed under heavy military siege than the region which breeds and harbours terrorists in Nigeria.
Yet, in all of these, nobody seems to be talking. Even most unfortunate of all, the United Nations which ideally is meant to be the conscience of the world on matters of human rights abuse, oppression, subjugation, ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc; that are all rife in Nigeria today, is apparently indifferent. Ditto the African Union which has not so far reflected through any meaningful action in any member state the remarkable change of its policy of non-interference to non-indifference in the internal affairs of member states. Perhaps, the UN and the AU are waiting for the eventual upsurge in widespread bloodletting in Nigeria before being alive to their global and regional responsibilities.
By expectation, the most appropriate advocacy for these international bodies would have been to bring their influence, diplomacy and all instruments of coercion at their disposal to bear on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari by impressing it on the latter to quickly organize a referendum on this lingering issue of Biafra, before the bubble bursts. Meanwhile, if indeed it could be done for the Scots in the United Kingdom out of the volition of the leadership of Britain, why then will it be difficult for the world body (the UN) to do it for Biafrans in Nigeria.
In Syria, for one, it can be well understood that the ostensible reason which propelled President Barack Obama to embark on the voyage of arming the Syrian rebels (the vast majority of whom are reportedly members of the opposition political parties in Syria) was not unconnected with President Bashir al-Assad’s disgusting inclination to killing and bombing anti-government peaceful protesters.
Needless to say at this juncture, that this is by no means less than what currently obtains in Nigeria against the pro-Biafra peaceful protesters. Yet, President Barrack Obama appears so far to turn a blind eye to this very obnoxious incident in Nigeria.
Chiduluemije writes from Abuja