For some years now, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has been on the forefront in the struggle for the creation of a sovereign state.
With the absence of Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, during the time of Operation Python Dance, as well as the branding of the group as a terrorist organization, many believe the end is near for the group.
But in this email interview with TheCable, Emma Powerful, spokesman of IPOB, said contrary to such belief, the group is more formidable now than it has ever been.
He also spoke on a variety of issues including what has become of IPOB in Kanu’s absence, if the group would accept an option to dialogue with the federal government, the newly launched Hausa radio service as well as what a sovereign state of Biafra will look like.
TheCable: Some people find it difficult to believe that IPOB leaders do not know where Nnamdi Kanu is, can you convince us that you do not know Kanu’s whereabouts?
Powerful: Those that find it difficult to believe that the leadership of IPOB does not know where our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is are the same people that feign ignorance of the fact that the army invaded his residence. They are the same people that failed to hear Defence Minister General Mansur Dan Ali confirm on Channels TV during an interview that Nigerian government sent soldiers to invade the home of our leader and to capture him. Every right-thinking person knows the army went to kill Mazi Nnamdi Kanu on the 14th of September 2017 because there can never be any other plausible explanation as to why the army will truncate an ongoing judicial process by doing the work of the police. The question all right-thinking people should ask the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) is this; is it the duty of the army to be running round in armoured tanks looking for the enemies of Buhari to arrest? Nigerian Army, for those who might still be feigning ignorance of the fact, does not have the constitutional right to arrest anybody. Whenever soldiers arrest and molest people, as they normally do in Nigeria, they are breaking the law. That is what the Abdulsalami Abubakar 1999 Constitution says. But in Nigeria, law enforcement agencies and even the law courts don’t know what the constitution says. They are ignorant of their own laws. Those that invaded our leader’s residence went there to kill him his family and parents, or else they would have waited for him to appear in court on the 17th of October 2017. Buratai and his army are in the best position to answer any question regarding the whereabouts of our leader, especially at this time everybody, including non-Biafrans, are missing his inspirational leadership.
TheCable: Since the Python Dance operation, not much has been heard of the group regarding the Biafra agitation, does this mean the government has succeeded in weakening IPOB?
Powerful: Where did this patently false impression come from that IPOB has been weakened? Weakened in what way? If the media fails to carry to our news to your audience, then the “misleading” narrative peddled by Lai Mohammed and Nnia Nwodo that IPOB has been weakened, may be sustained in the minds of the gullible. But the truth remains that IPOB is more formidable now than ever. Despite the draconian and brutal crackdown on us, we have continued to hold rallies and protests. New IPOB family units are springing up all over the world. We successfully rallied in Onitsha before the successful boycott of Anambra governorship election. We also rallied in Aba on January 20, 2018 in remembrance of those killed last year during President Trump’s inauguration rally in Igweocha. Indiscriminate arrest, illegal detention and harassment of IPOB members have continued unabated. We stopped the treacherous Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership led by Nnia Nwodo in Lagos and also at Enugu during the ‘Handshake across the Niger’ event. Nobody born of a woman can weaken IPOB.
TheCable: Can you tell us the main idea behind the launch of Hausa radio service, do you think the government will let the station fly?
Powerful: Hausa Service of Radio Nigeria, mind you not Radio Biafra, was launched in response to the failed attempt by the Department of State Service (DSS) to infiltrate and destroy IPOB from within. The Nigerian government created a parallel radio station which we have since renamed Radio Buhari International to reflect its true ownership. They proceeded to launch another radio on a shortwave frequency with our sacred name. Both stations are based in the US. They named a non-existent person the leader of the great IPOB and claimed our leader and founder Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been replaced by this nonentity. It was at this point we decided late last year to launch a Hausa language service to take our unique enlightenment to oppressed ethnic minorities in the north because no enlightened society can swallow such junk. There is quality information deficit across the north which this Hausa radio service run by IPOB will address.
TheCable: While some of your followers and members have welcomed the launch of a Hausa radio service, some Nigerians see it as a coy to gain the sympathy of the north. Why the choice of Hausa when there are other languages around the south-east? Why not any language from the south-south?
Powerful: We chose the Hausa language because the majority of those at the receiving end of the falsehood propagated by the cabals in the north are their fellow core northerners. Educating the down-trodden masses of the north to understand the evil being committed in their name is important the most important assignment today. We are convinced that mass illiteracy and lack of access to unbiased information is the reason why a majority of Hausa Fulani people live in abject poverty and ignorance while their ruling class loot and accumulate all the wealth accruing to them.
TheCable: IPOB failed in its bid to stop last year’s governorship election in Anambra, what are your plans for the 2019 general election?
Powerful: Who told you IPOB failed in our bid to stop the elections in Anambra state? We successfully boycotted the elections as a prelude to what the world will witness come 2019. Less than 1% of eligible voters bothered to turn up to vote. That was the reason INEC spent days doing their best to bump up the figures to a respectable level. This, they succeeded in doing because the Abuja anointed politicians don’t want the world to know that power has slipped from them back into the hands of the masses. They don’t want the world to know how potent IPOB is but we know that they know. We have variously challenged INEC to publish the original result sheets collated from polling stations around the state to prove that less than 1% voted but to no avail. Go around Anambra state today and hear people testify that elections were totally boycotted. Where INEC got the figures they announced, only them can say. Election rigging, manipulation of results and inflation of voter figures is nothing new in Nigeria. They are panicking already because we have demonstrated that our people listen to IPOB and no other. 2019 will be a year to remember because, in so far as Biafraland is concerned, there will be no voting.
TheCable: Is IPOB willing to come to the negotiation table if the federal government invites it for dialogue?
Powerful: The answer is no, because Nigeria is not yet civilised enough to understand what dialogue means, neither are they known for keeping to the terms of any agreement reached. Name one agreement Nigeria entered into that ran its course. They think we are for settlement, how mistaken they are. We would only consider meeting them through a third party or mediator. History tells us that all conflicts end up on the conference table. Bearing this in mind, we would be willing to discuss with civilised sensible parties on how best to speedily facilitate the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria. Nigeria’s condition is a condition that is clearly unsustainable. The best way to go is referendum.
TheCable. Will an Igbo presidency in 2019 make IPOB back down on its quest for a sovereign state of Biafra?
Powerful: Nothing can make IPOB back down from this divine quest to restore the lost sovereignty of Biafra. Only the will of the people, clearly expressed during a referendum. We hear Nnia Nwodo, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Igbo governors and Abuja based errand boys, we ignorantly refer to as politicians or elite, tell us south-east and south-south do not want Biafra, which is a lie. There is only one way to establish the truth and settle this matter once and for all time. That is referendum. If we lose in a referendum, we stop the agitation for Biafra same day. The will of the people is what must prevail under this and every circumstance.
TheCable: Many of those who do not support your ideology have expressed dissatisfaction over what they describe as your violent approach — something very different from the method Odumegwu Ojukwu adopted while on the struggle for Biafra. What do you have to say?
Powerful: It is very sad and unfortunate that people don’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘violent approach’ as you put it. Violence doesn’t need dressing up in convoluted grammar because a situation is either violent or it is not. Those people peddling the myth that IPOB preach violence are the same Abuja rent boys and slaves. They will do and say anything to please their masters in order to hold on to political power and privilege. The same way Britain imposed unwanted corrupt men as warrant chiefs across Biafraland during the colonial era to their purpose is exactly the template the north adopted in the aftermath of the civil war to dominate, control and subjugate Igbo land and the rest of Biafraland. Have you heard of any emir, sultan, governor or politician from the north condemn herdsmen who are actively killing people on a daily basis? You know the answer to that? Only in Igbo land will a washed out politician beholden to Abuja for his dear life, rise to the position of a leader. No other society will accept such anomaly. IPOB is not violent and we don’t intend to pick up arms anytime soon, when we do, the world will know.
TheCable. You have other groups also agitating for Biafra, among which MASSOB is also included. Why can’t pro-Biafra agitators come under one umbrella and form a major front?
Powerful: This is another misconception I must correct now. All genuine groups agitating for Biafra restoration came together, when our leader was released from illegal detention early last year, to declare unanimously that he is the undisputed leader and arrowhead of the new agitation for Biafra restoration. IPOB cannot stop DSS or Lai Mohammed’s ministry of information from setting up a new Biafra group on a daily basis if they so choose. There is biting hunger and poverty in the land, so there will be regular supply of hungry people willing to accept pittance, for sake of preservation, to answer a pro-Biafra group. Groups come and go but IPOB remains. In as much this dispensation of our agitation for a sovereign Biafra is concerned, there is only one leader, Nnamdi Kanu and one organisation, IPOB, that resonates around the world. We remain without doubt the most organised and most potent freedom fighting outfit on this earth bar none.
TheCable: If Biafra comes to fruition today, how does IPOB want it run? Will it be a democratic nation? What is the IPOB idea of a sovereign state of Biafra?
Powerful: Biafra will be an open transparent society where laws protecting individual rights and freedoms will form the bedrock or foundation upon which the nation rests. Every political process will be democratised, from the election of the president, prime minister, members of parliament to district judges and police chiefs. There will be no siren escort for political office holders because all men will be genuinely equal before the law. It will become a criminal offence for any law enforcement officer to arrest a citizen without valid reason that can stand up to scrutiny on a court of law. Nobody will be prosecuted or persecuted for anything they say. There will be absolute freedom of speech. If the prime minister feels hurt by what is written against her or him, they should head to the courts and bring a libel suit, rather than telling the police chief or IG to arrest the person. The police in Biafra will not be routinely armed and on no account must the army be mobilised to do police work. Any army officer seen on the street with his uniform will be arrested, court-martialed and dismissed unless the country is at war. Basically, Biafra will be the complete opposite of Nigeria.