MESSAGE BY: THE COUNCIL OF ELDERS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BIAFRA TO ALL BIAFRANS LIVING IN NIGERIA AND IN THE DIASPORA
Fellow Biafrans greetings and salutation to all people of goodwill worldwide.
It has become necessary for the Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra to address the world and nation of Biafra whose children are scattered all over the world since after the Nigeria-Biafra war that ended in the battlefield in 1970. As some of you may be aware, we are in the Court at the moment with the Federal Government of Nigeria seeking to exercise our right to self-determination. Our legal argument as advanced by our formidable legal team is that we are Biafrans by indigenous identity but Nigerians by nationality. This was forced upon us by the British Government and sustained by Nigeria. We are the indigenous people of Biafraland whose maps existed in the ancient map of Africa over five hundred years before Nigeria was created in 1914.
The laws protect the rights of indigenous people to self-determination. We are in court seeking for justice because the Nigerian Government has continued the battle against Biafra in another form through lack of security of lives and property, marginalization, discrimination and hatred resulting in the destruction of our ancestral way of life.
The Council of Elders constitutes the Government of Indigenous People of Biafra under Customary Law. We are the Council of Elders which signed the documents that authorized Bilie Human Rights Initiative to institute action against Nigeria on behalf of the Biafrans. We have been advised by our lawyers that the Customary Law under which the Council of Elders was established as a Government of Indigenous People of Biafra is in consonance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. The only limitation is that the Government of Indigenous People of Biafra under Customary Law is not yet sovereign. We remain under the sovereignty of Nigeria until we gain independence.
Though we are not yet sovereign, we nonetheless have a legitimate organization under our customary law as a people. That government is led by the Council of Elders of the Indigenous People of Biafra. The law of governance requires the people to be under a legally constituted authority. As declared in the Federal High Court of Owerri, the Council of Elders is the government of indigenous people of Biafra, overseeing, managing and controlling the affairs of indigenous people of Biafra. Pursuant to this role, we hereby give the following directives to all indigenous people of Biafra who are presently in court with the Federal Government of Nigeria in Suit No. FHC/OW/CS/102/2012 as represented by Bilie Human Rights Initiative as follows:
1. The Government of Indigenous People of Biafra headed by the Council of Elders is the only leadership organ that speaks for all indigenous people of Biafra who are presently in Court with the Federal Government of Nigeria seeking to exercise their right to self-determination. We have defined in court that the indigenous people of Biafra whom we represent are those inhabiting the South East geopolitical region of Nigeria, parts of the South-South geopolitical region of Nigeria, and parts of the Middle Belt region of Nigeria.
2. All people who identify themselves as Biafrans are required to take directives from the Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra.
3. We give credit to the Federal Government of Nigeria and testify that the Nigerian Government has been cooperative and obedient to the rule of law in the ongoing case. We preach the rule of law and follow due process of law in our struggle for independence.
4. We hereby advise all indigenous people of Biafra to support the struggle of Radio Biafra currently broadcasting from London and to join Bilie Human Rights Initiative as the organization registered both in Nigeria and the United Nations to advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination.
5. We have noted the fears of some Biafran businessmen and investors whose wealth and riches are located outside Biafraland. It is necessary to allay their fears by stating that when independence is achieved, no investments outside the territory of Biafra will be lost. It will be similar to having investments in a foreign country just as some Nigerians have properties in Britain, America and beyond.
6. We condemn in the strongest possible terms, the news that the Nigerian Police and military personnel have often killed Biafran’s who belong to some organizations without legal backing. We advise all pro-Biafra activists to come under the supervision and governance of the Council of Elders. We still recognize and encourage rights to freedom of association. We also advise the Government of Nigeria to refrain from harassing, intimidating or killing Biafra activists. It is important that the principle of an accused person remain innocent until proved guilty is rigorously adhered to at all instances, Nigeria is still a democracy.
7. Finally, we implore that all Biafran’s wherever they are in the world to support the two projects we have at hand. These are the projects run by Radio Biafra and the ongoing Case in the Federal High Court Owerri, Imo State. We ask that you help in ensuring that these two projects do not suffer due to lack of financial support. They are working for the enrichment of the fundamental rights of all of us. I wish you success in all your legitimate endeavors.
Dr. Dozie Ikedife
Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra