The alleged insensitivity of the federal government against the plight of Ndigbo is being touted as fuelling the struggle for Biafra Independence by Igbo groups.
Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Australia, Chief Cyprian Okoye, told reporters in Enugu on Tuesday that, current agitation over the republic of Biafra would continue as much as the federal government had insisted on treating Ndigbo as non-members of the country.
He stated that Ndigbo had not been treated fairly, stressing that the abuse faced by its people exacerbated in the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Okoye explained that the government had failed to break the IPOB and other Biafra agitators because “we derive strength in the fact that we are already down and a man that is down does not need to fear nor fall. You cannot beat a baby and ask him not to cry. If they have beaten us and deny that we are not members of the same country, it is our duty to cry and I know those who have ears will not let the tears drop from our eyes to be in vain in the end”.
He insisted that the Buhari administration had treated the Igbo with scorn by the level of provocation being carried out by armed herdsmen in parts of the southeast.
“Our people no longer farm and go to their farms for harvest easily. They either farm and have their crops destroyed or end up losing their lives in their farms by marauding herdsmen carrying heavy arms. Yet, it is the same government that retrieved arms from our people but leaving those of herdsmen who also wield such guns openly”, he stated.
Okoye insisted that the latest provocation was the interstate movement restriction which had been seriously violated by able-bodied young men from the north who have continued to invade the southeast in their number.
“Worst still is that these young men move through our checkpoints manned by security forces whether in the day or at night even with the restrictions order against the interstate movement. They travel in long buses and trucks and have continued to occupy some communities and farmlands in the zone. Even with the alarm being raised that they constitute security risks, the federal government has continued to maintain sealed lips”, he noted.
He continued: “We cannot continue this way. We did not fight for the independence of Nigeria to be treated as outcasts. We are determined to leave this country for those who said they were born to rule. That is all we are asking for. Allow us to go in peace and take your Nigeria and live in it the way you want. Check out the appointments made so far and you would see the level of nepotism by this government. They kill our people anyhow they like. A good number of our people are languishing in prison custody without trial. Some have not gone to court for one day. That is the way the government wants us to continue to live. We fought the war and accepted no victor, no vanquished. But what we cannot accept is suppression and intimidation of our people. So for the sake of peace, allow our Biafra republic. That is all”
Okoye insisted that the IPOB was a peaceful organization, adding however that its advocacy was to ensure freedom for Ndigbo and other oppressed persons of Biafra.
He added that IPOB in Australia would continue to support any move that would lead to the realization of Biafra independence.