New Telegraph

IPOB and its strategy in the South East

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has for some time now become a government of its own in the South East region of the country. The group, which claims to be fighting for the rights of the Igbo of the region, has constituted itself into a law, ordering the people to stay at home on Mondays and any other day that catches its fancy. We have observed with total dismay the activities of the group, which was proscribed by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration over allegations of terrorist activities. Even though IPOB has declared that it is no longer ordering stay-at-homes on Mondays, we have seen that Mondays have become ghost days in the entire region. People are afraid to come out on this day in the South East because of the fear of the unknown.

We also know that violent actions have been taken against people who dared to come out on such days, to the extent that the cries of governors of the region that people should come out for their businesses now sounds like a joke. Not too long ago, a brother of Kanu told a national newspaper that IPOB is now in charge of the South East. While the claim is disheartening, it is painful to admit that it is not far from the truth.

We dare say that the governors of the region have lost control of their states to IPOB and hoodlums, who hide under the wings of the secessionist group. We also note that Igbo leaders appear to have caved in to threats of violence from the group, hence the very loud silence from elite of the Igbo stock in the mayhem that the South East region has become. We acknowledge that under different global charters that Nigeria is signatory to, self-determination is not a crime. We also note that the Federal Government, under Buhari, could have dealt with IPOB in a way different from the proscription of IPOB and arrest of Kanu, its leader, which in no small measure aggravated the anger of the group and its followers.

But we state without any doubt that IPOB has brought more harm to the people it claims it is fighting for than good. From Aba to Owerri, Onitsha to Nnewi, Abakaliki to Enugu, Awka to Orlu, Okigwe to Umuahia, the activities of IPOB have only caused sorrow to the people of the region.

It is even beyond the region. Not long ago, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), linked the group to the #EndSARS violence in Lagos. It couldn’t have been worse. Whether Malami is right or wrong remains for the future to decide but one thing that is not in doubt is that such allegations are capable of inciting other ethnic groups against innocent Igbo people, who are spread out all over the country in search of survival. While Malami’s allegation has not incited any direct loss to the Igbo that cannot be said of allegations of the Federal Government that IPOB has become a terrorist organisation. All over the South East, roads, villages, markets are militarized on account of IPOB. Businesses are losing billions while the region that is the bastion of individual survival is now a shadow of itself.

Schools now operate on Saturdays because of the Monday shutdowns. As Christmas is approaching, old parents, who looked up to see their children and relatives return as usual for festivities are now warning them not to dare come home for Christmas. Movements to the east are now akin to travelling to Maiduguri or Yobe, where Boko Haram holds sway. That is on account of killings, arsons that take place in the region daily.

We note that some schools of thought believe that some Fifth Columnists are in the fray in the mayhem unfolding in the region but can we exonerate IPOB from such carnage? We cannot because it is clear that the group has even lost control of its activities in the region. Hoodlums have jumped into their activities without a doubt.

The recent killing of Dr. Chike Akunyili in Anambra, the killing of traditional rulers in Orlu and so many other killings in the area, which IPOB denied involvement, are pointers to the disaster the agitation has turned into. We regret to state at this point that IPOB’s activities and particularly, the stay-athome order have become a huge embarrassment to the South East, its people and governors. There is no gainsaying that the mess cannot continue as it is. Time is now for IPOB to shut down its highhandedness and allow the East to breathe. We are aware that South East leaders are using back channels to negotiate for Kanu’s release. The group should not endanger the people any longer. Reason should prevail now in the interest of the people.

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