Friday, August 23, 2019 / 01:16PM / By Chief John Nnia
My Dear Ndigbo,
My attention has been drawn to a recorded speech made by Mazi
Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, now streaming in the social media. The speech was ostensibly made in Germany ahead
of a visit, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and I were scheduled to make to Germany for a
meeting of Ndigbo. In that video, Nnamdi
peddled unprintable lies about me and rebuked Igbos in Germany for inviting me
and threatened that I will not leave Germany alive. I would have ignored this speech as I have
ignored many of his previous abuses and deliberate falsehood previously
broadcast against me.
I had ignored them in the past not only because the distortions
and falsehood were indirectly countered by the robust publicity of my
activities and utterances which negated his representations but also because I
thought it was indecent for a father and his son to be engaged in public
disputations, especially when such disputations in our present circumstances
will weaken our solidarity and portray us as a divided and unserious lot.
It has however become necessary now to rebut his persistent
falsehood because, not to do so will make them credible amongst those who may
not have heard my side of the story.
The IPOB leader first of all accuses me of being an accomplice to
the invasion of his homestead in Umuahia by the Nigerian Army in Operation
Secondly, he accuses me persistently of being a Fulani stooge who
would always do the beckoning of the ruling Fulani elite in Nigeria. He also accuses my late father of being a
He holds me and our South East Governors and Legislators
responsible for the marginalization of the South East. He accuses me of being against the
realization of Biafra and a saboteur to the Igbo cause.
First of all, I am neither the Commander-in Chief of The Nigerian
Armed Forces nor a member of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Secondly, I never participated in any meeting
where operation python dance was ever recommended or ordered. Truth is that when the second operation
python dance was ordered, I wrote against it and advised against it in the
media. I saw no need for it
I condemned the mayhem that
followed it. I wrote to the GOC 82
Division N.A on the violation of the UN rules of engagement by his troops. I listened to the brief of the Abia State
Government on the clashes between the Nigerian Police and Nnamdi Kanu on the
establishment of the Biafra Security Service without legislative approval or
knowledge of the Nigerian Police. I
called for caution.
I confronted the Attorney General of the Federation on his move to
obtain an interlocutory order to enable him classify IPOB as a terrorist
organization. When the Federal
Government finally proscribed IPOB, I criticized it. I wrote to the UN secretary General in these
words. It is a verifiable fact that, other than recourse to the use of
intemperate language, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for
the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) campaign has been
generally peaceful, non-violent and in conformity with the relevant provisions
of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Their campaign has also been in conformity
with the United Nations Instruments and Protocol on Human, Civil and Political
Rights. It is for this reason that I,
the undersigned, without endorsing some of the their methods of agitation,
still make bold to observe that their protestations have remained at the level
of verbal expressing, radio communications, peaceful street demonstrations,
prayer sessions and lately, a sit-at-home event in memory of the millions of
Igbo lives lost during the civil war.
At no time has any of these groups resorted to the use of arms or
violence. If their sit-at-home event of
30th May 2017 was an inconvenience, it was more so to the Igbo communities of
the South-East and not to the people in the Northern States or the rest of
Nigeria. To therefore turn around to use
it as a reason for mass ejection of the Igbo in Northern Nigeria is a mere ploy
to isolate the Igbo for another round of massacre, dispossession and
deprivation of their fundamental human and constitutional rights. This, Your Excellency, portends the danger of
degenerating into another civil war in Africans most populous country, a
breach of international peace and security, a messy break-up of Nigeria
resulting in massive internal displacement of persons and high incidence of
I took the IPOB case to the British Institute on International
Affairs in Chatham House London and said the following words, Let me seize
this opportunity to once more thank the Royal Institute of International
Affairs for inviting me as President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to speak here
today. In Nigeria, Ndigbo whose social cultural organization I lead, are,
notwithstanding their historical experiences in Nigeria, the most loyal ethnic
group to the concept of one Nigeria. We are the largest ethnic group other than
the indigenous group in any part of Nigeria. We invest and contribute to the
economic and social life of the communities wherever we live. We are proudly
Christians but very accommodating of our brothers of other religious
persuasions. We are grossly marginalized and still treated by the Federal
government as second-class citizens. No Igboman, for instance, heads any
security arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Our area is the most heavily policed
as if there was a deliberate policy to intimidate us and hold us down.
Our endurance has been stretched beyond Hookes gauge for elastic
limit. The deployment of the Nigerian Army under the guise of Operation Python
dance to the South East was unconstitutional under S. 271 of the
Deployment of the army in the constitution is only allowed in
circumstances of insurrection, terrorism and external aggression not in killing
of priests, or fighting kidnapping. And in those circumstances where they can
be deployed, leave of the Senate must be sought. This brazen impunity in
dealing with matters which concern the South East is provocative.
The Arewa Youths Council by issuing a quit notice for Igbos to
leave Northern Nigeria and declaring a Federal Republic of Nigeria without
Igboland had committed serious infractions of the law. First by declaring a new
Republic of Nigeria which excises the South East unilaterally, they were
committing treason. By issuing a proclamation for Nigerians to leave any part
of Nigeria forcibly they were infringing the fundamental rights of innocent
Nigerians, as guaranteed by the Constitution to live and do business anywhere.
By commencing an inventory of Igbo property in Nigeria for seizure by October
1st, 2017, they were attempting conversion. By proclaiming a mop-up action of
those who did not comply with their order by October 1st, they were, without
doubt, inciting genocide. Yet, in spite of all these, orders to arrest them by
the Kaduna State Government and the Inspector General of Police were not
enforced nor were they prevented from holding court with Governors and leading
elders from the North
I rebuked the Federal Government for the way IPOB, an armless
group fighting for self-determination, was classified as a terrorist
organization whilst Fulani herdsmen classified by the Global Terrorist Index as
the 4th deadliest terrorist organization in the world was treated with kid
I maintained the same view in my public lectures at Nnamdi Azikiwe
University, Awka, UNN, Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Anambra State and many other
places within and outside Nigeria.
I challenge Nnamdi to give me one single evidence of my
involvement in conspiring Operation Python Dance.
Notwithstanding these abundant evidence of my championing IPOB
cause, he ordered an invasion of my telephone with numerous insulting calls and
threats to my life. My home in Ukehe was
bombed. Police investigations of these
incidences linked some of them to IPOB members.
Their lawyers approached me and I thought that a father taking his son to
court and subsequently to jail would be un-Igbo. Notwithstanding their confessional
statements, I withdrew my compliant against them and they pledged to be of good
Thereafter the campaign of calumny resumed. Prof. Ben Nwabueze, a foremost Igbo leader,
summoned two meetings of myself accompanied by some members of Ohanaeze
executive and IPOB leaders to his homes in Enugu and Atani. After these meetings, he declared that IPOB
has not established any prima facie case against me and that he did not want
any of their spurious allegations raised again.
We shook hands and embraced each other.
Nnamdi accuses me of being a Fulani stooge!! I am sure no
reasonable Igbo man believes him. I have
criticized President Muhammed Buhari more than any other Nigerian. Perhaps, what I don not do is to insult his
person or call Nigeria a zoo. I was
trained to be respectful. I can disagree
with you without being rude and impertinent.
No matter how sectional, incompetent or unproductive I consider
the President of Nigeria to be, I must respect his age and office in my
criticisms of him. As for the attack on
my late father, I forgive Nnamdi. My father was Ziks Minister and Okparas
Minister. My father and late Chief M.N
Ugochukwu were some of the prominent financiers of the Biafran War. I fought the Biafran War myself as a Biafran
soldier at a very young age without my parents objecting.
Yes, I served President Shehu Shagari and General Abdulsalami
Abubakar as minister. I respect them
notwithstanding differences of opinion we may have on the structure of Nigeria.
Odumegwu Ojukwu was like my senior brother. Bianca can attest to our closeness and my
loyalty to him. Vice President Alex
Ekwueme was my mentor and friend. Nnamdi
Azikiwe confided in me and treated me like a son. M.I. Okpara was the Chairman of my
wedding. Late Dr. Dozie Ikedife was the
first person to sign my nomination form for the office of President General of
Ohanaeze. None of these Igbo leaders
found me a traitor of Igbo cause.
Every-where I have been in Igboland, young men and women embrace me,
pose for photographs with me and commend my efforts in championing our
case. I salute them all.
The IPOB leader accuses me of joining the South East Governors to
sabotage the cause of our people. This
youngman either does not understand nor appreciate the system we run. Our Governors were elected in accordance with
the law. They are Chief Security
Officers of our States even though the armed forces that should assist them
take orders from Abuja. I do not belong
to any organ in their governments. They
do not give me instructions neither do I give them. We are supposed to cooperate and work
together in the interest of our people.
Where we differ, I must respect our freedom to do so but in some cases I
must also respect the confidentiality of our discussions.
Finally, no amount of insultive, provocative and incendiary
speeches can get us Biafra or Restructuring.
I was one of the agents that put together the Southern and Middle
Belt Leadership Forum. No pressure group
in Nigeria is as strong as this group in the struggle to restructure
Nigeria. Restructuring Nigeria will give
the South East sovereign independence in the control of our national resources
and political control of our government structures. Short of a war you canâ€™t force Nigeria to
grant us Biafra. I believe that working
together we can achieve a referendum/constitutional amendment or a plebiscite. That will be a first step to
self-determination. The journey of
Catalonia and Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic are examples of how long and
tedious the struggle for self-determination is in our contemporary world. Letâ€™s go step by step and without acrimony.
I have noted the threats to my life from the IPOB leader. I leave that to God and the law.
Ndigbo will recall that when the leader of IPOB was released, the
South East Senate caucus advised him to leverage with me and other Igbo leaders
so that we can achieve a synergy. We met
once and three weeks after that in spite of our cordial discussions, I was the
subject of his abuse on Radio Biafra. It
would appear that he is on a megalomaniac streak where he arrogates to himself
the monopoly of wisdom and capacity to cause mayhem.
Ndigbo, I have championed your cause with every amount of energy
in me. I have worked with little
encouragement or assistance. Thank God
my team and I have elevated Ohanaeze Ndigbo to an enviable status. It is dangerous for our solidarity and
ultimate success if we allow these vituperative outbursts to truncate our
solidarity. In spite of all I say, I
salute Nnamdi for his courage and his persistence in upholding our case but I
urge you all to rise up and condemn what is condemnable. Speak up and shame those who would want us to
split into pieces and destroy our resolve to fight as a united people.
As a father, I will always forgive an erring child but not without
drawing his attention to a misdemeanor which should never be repeated.
About The Author
Chief John Nnia Nwodo is a Nigerian
lawyer, economist, and minister. He serves as the ninth President-General of
the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
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