By Chimaobi Nwaiwu & Livinus Nwabughiogu
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, has suspended the sit-at-home protest it ordered in the South-East region, saying the civil action would now hold on days its detained leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, appears in court.
It explained that should there be any need to reverse the decision, the group wouldn’t hesitate.
The separatist body’s action implied that the next sit-at-home would now take place on October 21, 2021, when Kanu is scheduled to appear in court.
Kanu, who was brought back to Nigeria in a controversial manner by the Federal Government, is standing trial at the Federal High Court, Abuja, for jumping bail and other issues.
Specifically, he is facing charges bordering on treasonable felony instituted against him in response to years of campaign for the independent Republic of Biafra.
He was released in April 2017 for health reasons and fled Nigeria after soldiers raided his father’s residence in Afara-Ukwu, Abia State, in November 2017.
Upon being brought back to Nigeria, Kanu was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako on June 29.
His trial was adjourned till July 26 for hearing. But the federal government failed to produce him, citing logistics reasons. The matter was adjourned till October 21, 2021.
In solidarity with its detained leader, IPoB ordered a weekly sit-at-home exercise across the South-East states.
Apart from recording substantial compliance last Monday, the first event led to the loss of lives in some parts of the region.
Long before last Monday’s sit-at-home, some notable Igbo leaders and groups had kicked against it, saying the South-East economy would be gravely affected.
Kanu’s family had also differed with IPoB on the matter.
However, explaining the reason behind the decision to back off in a statement, IPoB said the action was at the behest of Kanu.
Consequently, the group said its Directorate of State, DOS, decided to suspend the weekly event.
The statement titled: ‘Why We Are Reviewing the Monday Indefinite Sit-at-Home Order’ reads: “The suspension of the Sit-At-Home by the IPOB Head of Directorate, was as a result of an order from the leader of this great movement Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“In accordance with the directive from our leader, our Sit-At-Home will in the meantime be observed on the date of our leader’s court appearances.
“If we have any reason or directive from the IPOB highest command that requires us to reactivate the suspended weekly Sit-At-Home, the leadership will not hesitate to lift the suspension and continue with our civil action.
“The leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, understands the concern being expressed by the global IPOB family on the suspension of the weekly Sit-At-Home earlier announced by the IPOB Head of Directorate of State, HOS, of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
“We know that our people embraced this civil action wholeheartedly and without any compulsion. The leadership sincerely appreciates the innate desire of Biafrans, to sacrifice their time, resources and energy in ensuring that our leader, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is released unconditionally from the illegal custody of the Nigerian state.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that one of the major fundamental guiding principles of IPOB is Command and Control. This simply means that all commands from the Supreme leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB, will be obeyed and implemented to the latter by the Directorate of State of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
“Bearing in mind, therefore, that this principle has enabled this movement to surpass even the expectations of both Biafrans and non-Biafrans alike, the leadership wishes to encourage Biafrans to focus on the most pressing issue confronting this great family, which is ensuring the safety of our leader, while still in the illegal custody of the DSS and to secure his unconditional release from detention.
“The leadership once more appreciates all Biafrans and our friends and sympathisers who faithfully observed the Monday, August 9, Sit-At-Home, which was a huge success throughout Biafra land. May God continue to bless and uphold all those committed to our struggle.
“We consider Biafra restoration as a sacrosanct call to duty above all else. Any other information regarding Sit-At-Home in Biafraland, not emanating from IPOB, through our main channels of information dissemination should be disregarded.
“The Nigeria government should heed now to the voice of reason coming from within Nigeria and from outside the shores of Nigeria to unconditionally free our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and announce a date for Biafra referendum or plebiscite where our people will choose where they wish to belong before it is too late.”
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Methodist Church Nigeria Onitsha, Eastern Gateway, Rt. Rev. Biereonwu Onuagha, said those against the sit-at-home were myopic and selfish.
He said Igbo need freedom from enslavement, adding that anything done for Kanu who is fighting to liberate the Igbo shouldn’t be seen as being too much.
He said: “ Nnamdi Kanu still represents everything Igbo. Those giving the impression that those fighting him are right, want to save their lives only. They want to save their properties and possibly their jobs.”
Also, Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, the youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has hailed IPoB for calling off the weekly sit-at-home protest.
A statement by its President-General of OYC, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, said IPoB took a laudable decision.
He said: “This has shown that IPOB is sensitive to the feelings of the Igbo masses who are being affected economically, educationally and in other various ways by that order.”