In these very turbulent times, the recent high profile summit of leading Igbo human rights scholars (including respected literary critic Ben Obumselu) and activists (including influential lawyer Olisa Agbakoba) at the Ofuobi African Centre, Enuugwu, may well be the turning point on the ground in Igboland to decisively chart the final phase of the course to the restoration of Igbo sovereignty.
Away from the usual heart-rending equivocations and staggering untruths that emanate from occupation-appointed officials and acolytes and by uncritical commentators (some of who are, amazingly, Igbo!) on the source of the current violence and insecurity in Igboland, the summit’s communiqué lays the case squarely on the Nigeria state – its “siege and occupation” of Igboland, as the text appositely states. It elaborates, most profoundly:
[Igboland] has become militarized with a vast deployment of expeditionary and predatory police and army personnel who are from outside the region. For instance, there are 61 Police check-points between Abakal[e]k[e] … to Nsukka … (a distance of about 130km). In [contrast] between Obolo-Afo [Igboland] and Lokoja [Nigeria] (a distance of nearly 400 km) no checkpoints exist. This state of siege is exemplified by the current [situation] of … [Igbo] cities [including] Aba, [Enuugwu, Abakaleke, Onicha, Owere] and Nnewi – hitherto the fastest growing and thriving industrial cum commercial cities in the African continent now being turned into refuse dumps and ghettos. Businesses that would have provided jobs to engage our youths have been strangulated by incompetent and criminal leadership.
The summiteers conclude with a 10-point resolution and demand made on the occupation state, two of which are particularly pertinent:
1. Immediate demilitarisation of Igboland by dismantling all checkpoints and security barricades that it has set up across the countryWhat is clearly evident is that the accent, presently, on Nigeria’s unrelenting genocide on the Igbo, since the 1966-1970 foundational stretch when it murdered 3.1 million of the people, focuses on demolishing the crucial socioeconomic architecture of their collective being. Pointedly, this preoccupation constitutes one of the five acts of genocide explicitly defined in article 2 of the December 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “deliberately inflicting upon the group conditions of life designed to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” (the Sudan’s head of regime Omar al-Bashir’s recent indictment for genocide, by the International Criminal Court, was effected partly because of his regime’s perpetration of this particular act of genocide in Darfur – see previous blog posting).
2. Immediate rescinding of the deployment of Nigeria military forces to Igboland on the spurious mission of fighting kidnapping, instead reorienting policing from expeditionary operations to intelligence-based operations in cooperation with communities
If one refers, for example, to the innumerable public statements on the Igbo genocide made over the years by Olusegun Obasanjo, a fiendish operative of this heinous crime and ex-head of regime in Nigeria, Nigeria has since been deeply troubled by its failure to accomplish its dreadful objective of annihilating the Igbo population 44 years ago. It therefore considers its current project of destroying the socioeconomic heritage and viability of the Igbo nation a sufficiently lethal tactical plank to accomplish its much vaunted, gruesome mission. Since 1970, the primary ambition of a typical Nigerian police officer graduating from police colleges in Nigeria is to be deployed to Igboland; he/she readily bribes their commandants to receive the coveted Igboland posting where they make an incredible fortune in just a few years of their placements at the myriad checkpoints, detaining/kidnapping/extorting money or a range of choice consumer products from road users. Even Igbo school children going to and from school, are not exempt from this officially-sponsored, openly-organised brigandage. Igbo homes and businesses (particularly shops and markets), as can be expected, are also regular targets of this institutionalised thieving spree. We mustn’t forget that, just over seven years to the day (10 July 2003), it was a Raphael Ige, a Nigerian assistant inspector general of police, who spectacularly carried out the kidnapping of then governor Chris Ngige of the Anambra region, northwest Igboland. Ige was a key executioner in the Ngige abduction plot, which was planned and authorised by the Obasanjo regime to divert Anambra public funds to Obasanjo-recruited hirelings opposed to the ongoing reconstruction of Igboland.
Abduction, detention and extortion constitute the 3-headed monster that the Nigerian occupation employs to savage the Igbo economy – most ruthlessly and most remorselessly. In essence, and perhaps most perversely cast, the Igbo nation subsidises its very own occupation – an indirect taxation thereof, amounting to millions and millions of US dollars of savings annually for the near-bankrupt Nigeria treasury. Given the paltry state of its finances, Nigeria cannot afford its continuing occupation of Igboland without its simultaneous ravaging of the legendary wealth of Igboland. The Igbo therefore carry the burden of this occupation with all its tragic ramifications. There are no comparable occupations elsewhere in the contemporary world with the same viciousness and severity.
What happens next in Igboland? When will the Nigeria military and police forces depart – as duly demanded by the Igbo human rights practitioners? How do the Igbo shut down this occupation? The Igbo demands are for immediate implementation. Nigeria must comply with these demands. The Igbo should now ensure that Nigeria evacuates its occupying military and police forces from their country forthwith. The Igbo are not Nigerian. The Igbo are from Biafra. The Igbo are Biafran. Whilst the Igbo worked extraordinarily hard by playing the vanguard role in the liberation of Nigeria from the British conquest (beginning from the 1930s), the Igbo ceased to be Nigerian on 29 May 1966. This was the day Nigeria launched the Igbo genocide. The Igbo renouncement of their Nigerian citizenship is the irrevocable Igbo indictment on a state that embarked on the destruction of 3.1 million Igbo people, one-quarter of the nation’s population at the time. The only future a genocide-state has is its dismantling – nothing else.
The Igbo should now stop paying the millions and millions of US dollars worth of expropriation tax that sustains the occupation and their subjugation. One must never, ever, be a participant in their incarceration, their deindividuation. A general, indefinite strike across the Igbo country should be called forthwith, demanding the unconditional dismantling of Nigeria’s barriers of extortion and expropriation, and the evacuation of its military/police bases from their land. An extensive and continuing-evolving organisation is required as this march of freedom develops. All strata of the 50 million Igbo population, at home and abroad, must be mobilised – particularly women organisations, farmers, youth/students’ bodies, the redoubtable umuada and umunna circuits, market/allied trade guilds, custodians and overseers of Igbo traditional religious places of worship, the clergy and the rest of the intellectuals. The Igbo clergy, for instance, has its work cut out. The role of the church in national freedom movements has been invaluable as the world has seen in places like Poland, the United States (the African American church, for example), several countries in Latin America and, of course, back home in Biafra as occurred 44 years ago – surely in the next sermon in the churches and cathedrals of the land, the congregation will be interested to learn of the legacies of the venerables Akanu Ibiam, Godfery Okoye, Benjamin Nwankiti… The Igbo expect their intellectuals, many of who are part of the world’s best and brightest, to play a critical role in responding to this existential threat to their nation. Already, there exists a rich legacy of the outstandingly selfless role played by Igbo intellectuals to Igboland at the onset of the genocide to build upon.
Finally, the rest of the world must know of the historic Enuugwu human rights community declaration and the measures being taken by the Igbo to free their homeland. The text of the communiqué should be distributed worldwide, particularly to institutions and agencies working on genocide, human rights, peace and freedom. The use of all the creative avenues of new technology is paramount. Igbo website networks will indeed be very busy in the coming days and weeks. The millions of Igbo émigrés, especially those in Europe and North America, should begin, right away, to lobby their elected representatives(members of parliament/deputies/congresspeople/senators) on these breathtaking developments and also seek support and solidarity from civil and human rights bodies in their community, region or country of domicile.
Students should take up this campaign in their unions, clubs and societies on resumption after the summer vacation. The office of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, The Hague, should be contacted at once with the astonishingly vast documentation that the current and previous phases of the Igbo genocide attest to. Last year’s British Broadcasting Corporation’s investigation of the Nigeria police murdering-escapades in Enuugwu as well as that of Amnesty International’s wider canvass of investigation on the same police barbarities in other parts of occupied Igboland and Nigeria (see links below) are indispensible additions to the existing dossier on the genocide: