South-East and South-South groups rose from a meeting in Enugu, Friday, vowing to throw their weight behind the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB in order to facilitate the conduct of referendum for the actualization of Biafra.
The 26 groups expressed outrage over the reported massacre of pro-Biafra agitators in Onitsha, Anambra State.
They agreed to enlarge their coalition by consulting widely on the need or otherwise for the two regions to endorse the non-violence agitation of IPOB for a referendum to decide the future of Nigeria
The meeting’s singular agenda was the support or otherwise of IPOB in pursuit of a referendum.
The meeting was convened by 82 year old NCNC and Zikist activist, Chief Mrs, Mariah Okwor, and Leader of the Igbo Women Assembly.
Present at the meeting, were representatives of CAN, PFN, Traditional Rulers, Igbo Traders Congress, Ohanaeze Youth Forum, Igbo in Academia, South East Professionals, Niger Delta Youth Forum, Old Eastern Region Movement, World Igbo Congress, Igbo Survival Movement, South East Youth Congress, amongst others.
The groups were angered at the silence of the South East Governors over what they called “the cold blooded massacre of 81 Easterners on Monday around Onitsha and environs during the 49thAnniversary of the Annual May 30thBiafra Day Ceremony.”
Bishop Micheal Ibeneme of the Lords Salvation Gospel Ministry, who chaired the meeting, lamented the deliberate attempt by the Army to blackmail the youths, by claiming that the youths turned violent.
“It is fabricated lies, the youths were deliberately murdered by the soldiers simply because someone in Abuja does not want to hear the name Biafra. Everybody knows those boys were not armed.
“If a panel of enquiry is not immediately set up to bring to book those murderous soldiers, then the govt will be pushing all of us to join IPOB immediately. This mindless killing is unacceptable”.
Speaker after speaker condemned in no uncertain terms what they termed “the attempt to silence the truth by taking away more than half of the corpses by the military.”
The groups agreed to consult more widely and enlarge the coalition in other to take a definite decision on whether to publicly canvass support for IPOB in the light of the brutal suppression by the military.
The groups agreed to meet on the 27thof June in Umuahia to take a final decision.
Convener of the meeting Chief (Mrs.) Mariah Okwor, almost in tears bemoaned the cold blooded slaughter of unarmed youths, whose only crime is their desire for freedom from a repressive and mindlessly oppressive State.
She warned that the Onitsha massacre will not be swept under the carpet.
“This brutal genocide has clearly redefined the Nigeria reality. It is extremely difficult for any sane person to continue to support or even feel safe in any state where cold blooded murder by the state has become an everyday occurrence”.
She continued that, “The 81 young souls massacred on Monday has changed the dynamics, everybody now sympathizes with the boys, and we will meet on 26thJune in Umuahia to announce our total support for an early referendum on the fate of this country called Nigeria.
“We are totally shocked at the ruthlessness and wickedness of killing our children in cold blood. Our governors by their silence are only trying to isolate themselves from the people. Soon the people will mass up on one side and Buhari, the soldiers and the governors on another side. They will soon fire out that they are Leaders without followers.Everybody is mourning. The killings are unacceptable”.
Meanwhile, in another development, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement and deputy Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, Evangelist Elliot Uko, has appealed to all aggrieved youth of Eastern region to remain non-violent in their agitation for justice and equity, assuring them that the masses are with them.
Uko, who was addressing Student Union Leaders from 44 tertiary institutions from the South East, said the injustice in Nigeria can never be solved by killing unarmed youth and then turn round to falsely accuse them of attacking military man.
He said, “We all know IPOB are not armed, and we plead with them not to succumb to pressure and temptation to take up arms. The people are with them, that is the most important thing. I can tell you that over 95% of our people are sympathetic to the IPOB and their sacrifices.
“These mindless killings, have elicited so much sympathy towards their course. The decision to kill them was a terrible mistake. Now everybody is identifying with their course, even those who didn’t support them in the past now sympathize with them.
“So, the decision to kill them in order to scare them off and frighten them into backing off from their struggle has clearly backfired. The Aba massacre of February 9 and the Onitsha massacre of May 3o have won millions of converts for IPOB; the killing was a terrible mistake”.
“Uko said the funeral for the 81 persons killed in Onitsha should be peaceful and every effort must be made, not to fall into the trap of getting violent. Resort to violence will make IPOB loose the huge sympathy it is enjoying today. They must remain non-violent.”
He added that “the whole country is paralysed with fear and apprehension over uncanny developments in the land. While the military were busy mowing down unarmed youth in the east on Monday, Islamic warriors were busy same day lynching innocent easterner in niger state over allegations of blasphemy. Yet another igbo woman was also lynched in kano market Thursday evening. We are now in a state of fear and foreboding.”