The ethnic nationalities of the South-South geo-political zone have denounced demands for Biafra by Igbo in the South-East zone and called on them to stop protests on their soil.
The call was made after the South East Governors Forum summoned an emergency meeting of Igbo leaders on Tuesday, November 17. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the persisting protests by members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which have paralysed economic activities in the region.
Vanguard reports that in a 10-point communique issued at the end of a meeting held under the auspices of the Conference of Ethnic Nationalities of the South-South at Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, they dissociated the South-South zone from the “so-called Biafra.”
The meeting was attended by representatives of Ibibio, Efik, Anang, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Ikwerre, Oro, Isoko and several other nationalities.
“We will not allow any inch of the land of the ethnic nationalities mentioned above and other lands of the South-South to be part of the ill-thought-out enterprise.
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“We call for a halt to demonstrations for Biafra on our land henceforth as it touches on the collective sensibilities of our people and could provoke ethnic crisis.
“We are not only surprised but shocked that Igbos who returned to Nigeria after the fall of Biafra in January 15, 1970 with tales of woes and horrors can talk about Biafra.”
“It is in the interest of Igbos that Nigeria is protected as they have more investments outside their homeland,” the South South nationalities said.
They further urged governors, political leaders and traditional rulers of the South-East geopolitical zone to “speak out now as their silence is becoming eloquent.”
The South-South ethnic nationalities called on “well-meaning Igbos to call their children to order to prevent an avoidable crisis.” They also asked the law enforcement agencies to be more vigilant.
In tandem with the communiqué issued in Uyo, Esimaje Awani, the president of the Itsekiri National Youth Congress (INYC) issued a statement on Tuesday, November 17, in Warri, Delta state.
Awani stressed that Itsekiri and its territories should not be included in any IPOB or Biafran plan.
He said that Itsekiri were an indigenous ethnic group of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region of Delta state presently resident in the Warri South, Warri North and Warri South West local government areas. Awari noted that by the map of The Republic of Biafra of May 1967, Edo and Delta states of Nigeria were never envisioned as a part of Biafra by the legendary Chukwuemeka Dim Ojukwu.
According to him, the current inclusion of present Delta state, including the Itsekiri national territories of Warri Kingdom without due consultation is totally unacceptable and ultimately invalid.
“IPOB and Biafra have their rights of agitation for freedom of self determination as enshrined in the United Nations declaration, but other minority ethnic groups not duly consulted and their approval secured should not be dragged along to avoid the mistake that led to the civil war.
“The magnanimity of Itsekiri in allowing Igbos celebrate the Igbo Cultural Day in our land should not be taken for granted as we urge IPOB to de-list Itsekiri territories and Warri areas from its proposed map,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian army has warned pro-Biafra protesters not to cross the red line as military personnel are ready for battle.
Brig-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, the acting general officer commanding the 82 division of the Nigerian army in Enugu, stressed that officers would not fold their arms and allow people to destroy lives and properties all in the name of agitation for an independent state.