As secessionists in Nigeria mark the 50th anniversary of the Biafra independence declaration that resulted in a bloody civil war, south-east states have been entreated to shut down on Tuesday in commemoration of the day.
The two main secessionist groups, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) have issued statements in that regard amid police warning.
“We appeal to Nigerians and the people of South East in particular, to give Biafra fallen heroes and heroines the respect they deserve by complying with the planned sit-at-home directive by the IPOB and MASSOB, to avoid any embarrassment by the police and the military,” MASSOB coordinator in Anambra State Augustine Egbeh said in a statement.
Recently released IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu, who has been in jail for two years, has been barred from being in public as part of his bail conditions until the next hearing in July.
However, youth group alligned to IPOB, Ohanaeze Youths Council (OYC), after a visit to Kanu on Sunday called on the acting president to advise security agencies to avoid bloodshed during the sit-at-home on Tuesday.
“Ndigbo shall hold Osinbajo responsible as the Acting President of Nigeria should anything happen to any of our youths … He should, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria call all security agencies to order to ensure that they do not engage in mass murder,” the group’s Deputy National President Arthur Obiora said in a statement.
The police in Delta, Anambra, Imo, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra and Abia States have already issued statements ahead of the day warning the secessionists that they will clamp down on anyone who breaks the law.
It is reported that security has been beefed up in the south-east states to clamp down on any impending protests.
Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian security services to avoid the use of lethal force in ensuring public order citing the death of over a hundred people since 2015 during pro-Biafra protests, which the government has denied.
“The reckless approach to crowd control favoured by the security forces when policing peaceful pro-Biafra protests has left more than 150 dead since August 2015 … We urge the Nigerian security agencies to conduct themselves in a manner that will ensure public order without resorting to force,” Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria said.
The Republic of Biafra was a secessionist state created in 1967 by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu to lead the mainly Igbo inhabitants due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among Nigerian ethnic groups.
The secession was followed by a two-and-a-half-year civil war that saw over a million civilians die of starvation in Biafra due to a blockade of the region by the Nigerian government.
The Biafran forces subsequently surrendered and were reintegrated into Nigeria in 1970.
Below are some sentiments shared on social media on the anniversary.
🌹🌹Join me in wishing Nigerians🇳🇬 of Ndi-Igbo descent a Happy “sit at home day” today. To all my Biafra neighbours I say udo. Enjoy the day. pic.twitter.com/DJd868DW5Q— Kayode Ogundamisi (@ogundamisi) May 30, 2017
If Biafra leaves Nigeria, will Biafra fight with Nigeria over who has the best Jollof rice on Twitter? pic.twitter.com/C8L1FLY8th— KVNG (@PRINCE_VIII) May 29, 2017
Total conspiracy going on in Nigeria media as almost all Nigeria, liberal medias on blackout on Biafra heroes day. Very sad pic.twitter.com/dYrN5KezVv— Micah David (@RealMicahDavid) May 30, 2017
Onitsha this morning. People really dey siddon for house …. n some pple think dis biafra agitation is child's play…. pic.twitter.com/VNcQbslFZC— Ofe na su putuputu 1 (@gentleojay) May 30, 2017