Here we go again, and honestly speaking, I can understand where these guys are coming from.
In Nigeria, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (“MEND“) represents the Niger Delta, it is largest militant group in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Then you have Afenifere, formed as a socio-cultural organization representing the Yorubas. As much as it may appear in the open not to represent the North, Boko Haram has emerged as the Islamic sect. It believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law. As far as I am concerned, up until a few hours ago there was no group from the East that is been taken seriously. Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM) has now emerged as the group. They have declared an independent state of Biafra, it appears serious and this time, the East have representatives that can’t be ignored.
These groups undoubtedly will compete for publicity, government’s attention and concession in whatever form. The real battle has just begun and President Goodluck now has his hands full to keep Nigeria whole.
According to a report by the BBC, at least 100 people have been charged with treason in south-eastern Nigeria after a march supporting independence for Biafra, their lawyer says.
Members of the Biafran Zionist Movement declared independence, raised the Biafran flag and then marched through the region’s main town, Enugu.
More than one million people died during the 1967-70 Biafran conflict – mostly from hunger and disease.
Most of those arrested were young men but some were veterans of the war.
They were all remanded in custody.
The BZM first gathered on Sunday to mark the birthday of former Biafran leader Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who died in November 2011 and was buried in March.
The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says that 45 years after the Biafran flag was first raised – an action which sparked Nigeria’s civil war – a small number of separatists still keep their dream alive, despite the threat of being charged with treason.
Our correspondent says the war has been put back in the spotlight as the renowned Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe has just released his memoirs of the conflict.
He also notes that as the novel Half of a Yellow Sun by the author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is being made into a film, this traumatic period of Nigeria’s history is set to reach a wider audience.
The Biafran leaders were mostly from the Igbo ethnic group, whose members were targeted by rioters in northern areas following a 1966 coup seen as being led by Igbo officers.
In another report by the Punch, Policemen in Enugu on Monday arrested over 500 persons for allegedly being part of the purported re-declaration of Biafra as a sovereign state.
The group under the aegis of Biafra Zionist Movement had converged on an open field in Coal Camp area of Enugu where the leader, Mr. Ben Onwuka, addressed them.
However, after Onwuka’s address, policemen led by the Enugu Central Police Station Divisional Police Officer, Mr. Ike Mba, arrested him and other members of the group, who displayed Biafran, American and Israeli flags.
The suspects were arraigned before a court and remanded in police custody afterwards.
Police Public Relations Officer in Enugu State, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, confirmed the arrests.
He said, “No fewer than 500 persons believed to be members of BZM, which is also believed to be a faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, have been arrested by the police.
“The group was led by one Ben Onwuka and the members were arrested at Akwata, off Agbani Road, Enugu. They were arrested with 61 Biafran flags, 13 berets, three bands and eight BZM forms.”
While addressing the crowd, Onwuka said, “It is clear that the security of lives and property of Biafran people is no longer guaranteed in the entity called Nigeria.
“Therefore, we have resolved to re-declare our independence today based on the mandate given to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu on May 30, 1967 to provide our people security according to international law.
“It is clear that our people’s right to worship, according to our Christian faith, is no longer guaranteed. Therefore, we Biafra people have resolved to opt out of Nigeria.
“Today, the re-birth of the Republic of Biafra is finally actualised.
“On the international arena, the Republic of Biafra would establish and maintain a very pro-Israel international relations. Biafra would consider an attack on Israel and the Jewish people as an attack on Biafra.”