As President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo has been persistent in drumming up support for the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in Nigeria and the diaspora.
In an address at Chattam House, London, in 2017, where he was invited by the Royal Institute of International Affairs to discuss the topic ” Next Generation Nigeria: Accountability and National Cohesion”, Chief Nwodo seized the opportunity to make a strident and unequivocal case for IPOB thus:
“In the recent past, self-determination groups have sprung up in Nigeria. The self-determination groups include IPOB, MASSOB, YELICOM, Arewa Youths, Niger Delta Republic and Republic of Middle Belt.
Of all these groups, IPOB and Boko Haram have been designated as terrorist organizations by the Federal Government. This development in relation to IPOB is unfortunate. Boko Haram is an armed organization which has attacked and occupied Nigerian territory, hoisted its flag and appointed local authority governments. It has abducted and abused Nigerian women, kidnapped and imprisoned many and killed over two hundred thousand people. It is still involved in guerrilla warfare against Nigeria yet the Federal Government is negotiating with them. No members of Boko Haram captured by the military is under trial. Members of this Federal Government are on record for condemning the previous government of brutal murder of Boko Haram members and condemning the retired Chief of Army Staff for zealous prosecution of the anti-terror campaign. Members of the sect who confess to a change of mind have been received along with their abducted female partners in the Presidency and rehabilitated.
The declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization is, in my view, hurried, unfair and not in conformity with the intendment of the law. Whereas I am not completely in agreement with some of the methods of IPOB like its inappropriate and divisive broadcast, the uncontested evidence given by Attorney General of the Federation in an interlocutory action claiming that IPOB attempted and/or actually snatched guns from law enforcement agents are, if proven, merely criminal offence. They do not constitute enough evidence to meet international law definitions of a terrorist organization. Happily, the United State Embassy in Nigeria only three days ago shared this conclusion and asserted that the United States Government does not recognize IPOB as a terrorist organization. This same unarmed IPOB that is being stigmatized by the Nigerian government had its members murdered in Asaba, Nkpor, Aba and Port Harcourt simply for having public demonstrations without the Federal government ordering a judicial inquiry. Instead, after I called for one and Amnesty International provided evidence that 150 of them were killed, the Chief of Army Staff set up an inquiry composed of serving and retired army officers, thus abandoning the rules of natural justice which prescribes that you cannot be a judge in your own court.
The Igbos in Nigeria feel the treatment of IPOB as unfair, discriminatory and high-handed. They see the move as an attempt to encourage a profiling of Igbos in the international security arena.
We know of other self-determination groups in Nigeria that are armed and have destroyed government and private sector installations and wells that government prefers to negotiate with rather than label them as terrorist organizations”.
Like a sing-song, Chief Nwodo has repeated the same refrain at Coventry where he was invited by Igbos to share his thoughts on restructuring of the Nigerian Federation during their new yam festival celebration. Locally, like a cracked record, Chief Nwodo has been drumming the same message into the ears of Nigerians who care to listen, such as at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State and many other engagements.
When the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was released from prison as a result of pressure mounted by Chief Nwodo and others on the Federal Government for his release, Chief Nwodo courageously confronted the government on the stringent bail conditions given to Kanu thus:
“I am happy that a few days ago Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB was granted bail. His bail conditions are unprecedented in the judicial history of Nigeria for their rigidity, unconstitutionality and stringency. We do not believe that anyone of those who contributed to the framing of those conditions expected them to be met. It is also clear that having met them, the intention would now be to arrest him. If he cannot be in the company of more than ten people, it means he cannot go to church, he cannot travel in a bus or plane carrying more than ten people. He cannot walk the street lest his presence attracts the attention of more than ten people. This bail condition is a celebrated example of judicial rascality !!
I have said consistently that the attitude of the Nigerian government to our children who have become completely fed up with Nigerian experiment makes Biafra increasingly inevitable. A stitch in time saves nine. We anxiously await for Nnamdi co-accused persons to be also released on bail”.
Do all these fiery, daring and undiluted statements and speeches in defense of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB by Chief Nwodo depict him as the sell-out, coward an saboteur that IPOB is bent on feeding Nigerians and the international community with ? Are the person and actions of the President General in conformity with the vile and contorted picture they are painting of him ?
Can Nwodo who has been campaigning vehemently for reprief for IPOB be guilty of the heinous crimes being orchestrated by the group ? Why are they profiling him ? Nwodo has, as a loving, caring and dutiful father, pursued all avenues of peace to enable Ohanaeze Ndigbo and IPOB to work together in the interest of Ndigbo but IPOB remains unrelenting. He has refused to join issues with IPOB publicly believing stoically that a father should not fight in the public with his children, hence this attempt at elucidation in the people’s court. So, who is antagonizing and attacking who?
LET THE TRUTH BE SAID. AS CHILDREN ARE WONT TO SAY: “SAY THE TRUTH AND SHAME THE DEVIL”.
You can read the part one here