The continued slaughtering of members of the Movement for the
Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) by the Nigerian state has assumed a disturbing dimension in recent times that we can no longer keep silent in the face of brazen acts of killing.
The MASSOB is a non-violent group that anchored the realization of its mandate on the Gandhian principle of non-violence. Nowhere in Nigeria has this group been accused of suicide bombing, kidnapping, killing or any act capable of endangering public peace.
Therefore the continued killing of members of the group by the Nigerian state under any guise is unacceptable to Ndigbo.
The MASSOB’s philosophy of a restructured Nigeria where Ndigbo would have greater autonomy, contextually, is not different from the murderous and terrorist agitations of Boko Haram or the clamoring of the OPC and Egbesu boys for a truly structured Nigeria.
The difference between MASSOB and Boko Haram lies in their mode of operations and pursuit of their mandate.
While Boko Haram in a bid to create a fundamentally Islamic state in Northern Nigeria and has resorted to extreme violence and terrorism to achieve this, MASSOB believes in non-violence and constructive engagement.
We are not unmindful of the fact that the Nigerian state has not in any way raised a finger against the killing of Ndigbo by Boko Haram in many parts of Northern Nigeria; not minding the fact that many northerners live in Igbo land and up till today none of them have been molested.
The killing of MASSOB members under the guise of enforcing state security is hypocritical and driven by a rabid hatred of Igbo- A hatred that is rooted in Nigeria’s history. We can no longer fold our arms while our people are being slaughtered in cold blood.
Floating dead bodies of incacerated MASSOB members in Ezu River
Ignoring the senseless blood-letting by Boko Haram, the Federal Government is considering an amnesty for members of the dreaded sect; but rather than engage MASSOB in a constructive dialogue, the Nigerian Army are killing a group of people who have adopted nonviolence as a method of agitation.
In history, we have parallels of this type of struggle as symbolized by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jnr. The Nigerian Government must respect the rights of our people to express their concerns especially through nonviolent means instead of killing them.
This state-sponsored killing must stop now because Ndigbo would no longer accept this recklessness. Government should address Nigeria’s skewed federalism which has spawned these groups in the first place.
Further killing of our young men and women in the guise of maintaining questionable peace and order will be viewed by Ndigbo as a collective insult and an avowed extermination policy of Ndigbo by the Nigerian State.
Dr. Arthur A. Nwankwo
Chancellor, Eastern Mandate Union (EMU)