IPOB, Ohanaeze set for showdown in Awka

The banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) will either make good its threat today or risk being tagged as a group that issues empty ultimatums.

If its flood of fiery statements is anything to go by, the summit on restructuring by apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, will not hold in Awka, Anambra State.

But Ohanaeze has insisted it will hold the event, even as the police have assured the venue would be off limits to mischief-makers.

On the sidelines, meanwhile, residents of the town will be watching to see which of the parties might blink first.

“Anybody seen with Ohanaeze Ndigbo T-shirt will be regarded as a hired Hausa/Fulani thug and will be dealt with accordingly. In our finest tradition, we tell the world what we are going to do before we do it, because we are freedom fighters. Any hired thug that wants to waste his life should join anything called Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youths on Monday,” warned IPOB.

“If Ohanaeze leaders like, let them surround the venue with armoured tanks and soldiers. One thing certain is that the summit will not hold, unless Nnia Nwodo (President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo) and his collaborators will be prepared to kill us all on that particular day,” the group said.

Explaining its grouse, IPOB said: “On Monday, May 21, 2018, at Ekwueme Square in Awka, the longsuffering downtrodden people of the East will rise up to say enough is enough. Our 50 years of Fulani captivity, aided and abated by Ohanaeze Ndigbo, will finally come to an end. All agents of darkness and iniquity with red caps, recruited by the caliphate immediately after the war in 1970, to serve their interest and enslave Igbo land, will be exposed.”

The President of the Anambra State chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Okeke Ogene, has been quoted as saying: “We are used to IPOB’s threats. For instance, they said there won’t be an election in Anambra State last year, but the election was held and peacefully, too.”

Sounding conciliatory, however, Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said attacking persons at the summit would be counter-productive.

“We have told them that whatever grievances they have, they should bring them along to the venue. Every Igbo has right to come for an Igbo summit. You don’t spoil for war in your father’s land. You do it outside. If you kill us all, who will do the burial?

“When they come there, what we are discussing is restructuring Nigeria. They are talking Biafra. What they are saying is not different from what we are saying. We are saying, ‘Let’s discuss how Nigeria will be better’. If Nigeria gets better, they would get what they are seeking in a very easy way.

“But if we discuss the restructuring and there is no agreement, then there will be a basis for what they are saying. But saying we can’t stay as brothers and sisters and discuss, I don’t think it is proper. We are begging them not to come and spill the blood of their people. They should come peacefully and make their case; present their grievances,” Ibegbu said.

In its latest statement, IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful, warned: “Anybody equating what is about to happen at Ekwueme Square in Awka on Monday 21, 2018 with what obtained in the November 18, 2017 Anambra governorship election is a very poor student of social dynamics.

“We don’t want another meaningless restructuring debate that will lead to further enslavement of our people for another 100 years. If some individuals and groups are comfortable with their slave status in Nigeria, they should permanently relocate to the North, as some of them have done already.

“We the Indigenous People of Biafra will not be slaves in our own land. We will sacrifice everything sacrificable, including our lives, to ensure we live as free men in the land of our ancestors, as God intended before the White Man came.

“We warn anybody contemplating attending the Fulani-sponsored restructuring jamboree to think twice before heading to Awka on Monday, because safety will not be guaranteed.

“The statement issued by one Fulani police officer, SP Mohammed Haruna Idris, yesterday in Awka, confirms what we have always known that Ohanaeze Ndigbo will rely on their Northern masters to protect them; a socio-cultural association relying on their oppressors to come and protect them.

“When the pandemonium starts on Monday, a codeine-charged Fulani army or police officer armed with an AK 47 will not know who is who. Documented incidents of stray bullets killing innocent bystanders abound. If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t venture into Awka on May 21, 2018.”