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Biafra: Let The Igbos Go! – Arewa Youths writes Osinbajo

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While the dust raised by a coalition of Arewa groups is yet to settle down, the group has openly written Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo reinforcing their earlier stance that Nigerians from South Eastern extraction should be let go to form an independent state of Biafra.

The call, which came on Monday, June 19, 2017 was duly signed by five chieftains of the Arewa groups.

Signatories to the letter include Ambassador Shettima Yerima, Joshua Viashman, Aminu Adam, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman and Nastura Ashir Sharif.

They cited the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for their call for self-determination for the Biafrans.

They also submitted that the referenced protocol envisage that “people of any nation have the right to self-determination,” therefore, though the Charter “did not categorically impose direct legal obligations on member States, it implies that member States allow agitating or minority groups to self-govern.”

They further maintained that “State parties to these international documents are obliged to uphold the primacy and realization of this right as it cements the international legal philosophy that gives a people the right to self-determination.”

They insisted that “as the Igbo agitations persist and assume threatening dimensions… there is need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to exercise the right to self-determination as entrenched under the aforementioned international statutes to which Nigeria is a signatory.”

The writers, therefore, “demand that the only enduring solution to this scourge that is being visited on the nation is complete separation of the states presently agitating for Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a peaceful political process”.

This could be achieved, they claim, by “taking steps to facilitate the actualization of the Biafran nation in line with the principle of self-determination as an integral part of contemporary customary international law.”

While they do not see this clamour for Biafra as an issue over which a single drop of blood should be shed, they “insist that the Igbo be allowed to have their Biafra.”

Read the full contents of the open letter below:

Your Excellency, 

APPRECIATION 

On behalf of this coalition and all the peace-loving people of Northern Nigeria, we begin this letter by commending your efforts towards finding a lasting solution to the lingering Igbo-induced crisis that is undoubtedly overheating the polity. We sincerely believe Your Excellency’s good intentions as shown by your prompt and genuine actions towards ensuring peace and stability in holding talks with leaders of the North and the South-East. Though we do not doubt 

Your Excellency’s bona fide concerns for the peaceful resolution of the crises, we nevertheless have reservations as to the efficacy of this approach in ensuring lasting solutions. Our doubts are informed by the following historical antecedents that have characterized the behavior and conduct of the Igbo in Nigeria and previous efforts at containing them.  

PAST EXPERIENCES 

The Igbo of Eastern Nigeria manifested their hatred for Nigeria’s unity barely five years after we gained our independence from the British when on January 15, 1966, their army officers carried out the first-ever mutiny that marked the beginning of a series of crisis which has profoundly altered the course of Nigeria’s history. 

By that ill-motivated, cowardly and deliberate action, the Igbo killed many northern officers from the rank of lieutenant colonel upwards and also decapitated the Prime Minister and the political leadership of the Northern and Western regions but left the zenith of Igbo leadership at the Federal level and the Eastern region intact. 

In line with the Igbo plan, General Aguiyi-Ironsi took advantage of the vacuum and, instead of returning power to the remnants of the First Republic government, he appropriated the coup and attempted to consolidate it for his people. 

Army officers of the Northern Region were eventually compelled to execute a counter-coup on July 29, 1966, following a coordinated series of brazen provocations from the Igbo who taunted northerners on northern streets by mocking the way leaders of the region were slain by the Igbo. 

This, unfortunately, resulted in mob action which resulted in the death of many Igbos. And when Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, from the North, took over as Head of State following the counter-coup, the Igbo through Lt. Col. Ojukwu, characteristically refused to recognize Gowon. 

[Ojukwu] Ojukwu declared the secession of the Igbo people from Nigeria and the formation of the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967, resulting in a civil war that led to the tragic deaths of more than 2 million Nigerians. 

It is important to note here that the Igbo eventually capitulated and conceded defeat in an unconditional surrender, : not an armistice, on January 15, 1970, which renders any talk about Biafra at any other time, a repudiation of the terms of that surrender signed by Phillip Effiong and other Biafran leaders. 

BIAFRA REINCARNATED 

In a shot out of the blues, the Igbo have over the last 2 years regrouped and fiercely and openly started discussing Biafra again under Ralph Uwazuruike of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State Of Biafra MASSOB. 

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