By Vincent Kalu; Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
Members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) yesterday took to major streets of Onitsha and its environs calling for boycott of next Saturday’s Anambra State governorship election.
The group marched along major roads including Awka road, Old Market road, New Market road to Main Market, Oguta road and Upper Iweka to Owerri road vowing that there would be no election in the state or ‘Biafra land’ unless a referendum was held for the exit of Igbo people from Nigeria.
They waved Biafra flags and distributed handbills with inscriptions such as, “IPOB’s calls for referendum is not call for war”, “Biafra Exit”; “Our Mumu Don Do”; “No election in Anambra, no election in Biafra land, sit-at-home”, etc.
A member of the group, who gave his name as Ogbonnaya, said the people of Biafra should not vote, because the Nigerian system was skewed in favour of the North, stressing that voting would not change anything.
His words: “whether you vote or not, it does not change anything, whoever gets there swears allegiance to the Fulani slave book called constitution and immediately becomes a demon against his people. We need to boycott the elections to avoid giving their government legitimacy. To tell them that we are not miscreants, touts, criminals, toothless bulldog as they branded Biafrans. To tell them that the genuine power belongs to the people and we are withholding it for the good and the sake of our freedom”.
The group warned anybody who comes out to vote on the election day to be ready to bear the consequences.
Meanwhile, in a press statement signed by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, the organization urged every Biafran, both home and abroad, particularly indigenes and friends, brothers and sisters living in Biafravland to prepare for the total boycott and lock down of Anambra State.
The statement stresses: “It is also very critical to inform every Biafran, be you IPOB family member, businessman, farmer, artisan, driver, teacher, doctor, Okada/Tricycle union, civil servant, trader, market leader, LUBAN, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), NILODAS, fisherman, market men and women, including politicians who believe in freedom and liberty of a free independent State of Biafra, to boycott this Anambra State election”.
The statement noted that the successful boycott of the election would convey in unequivocal terms the determination and resolve to restore Biafra at all cost. This Anambra election boycott it stated would give that agitation unprecedented global momentum that would move world leaders to accept the inevitable democratic and peaceful break-up of Nigeria, and will be morally bound to consider a possible date for Biafra referendum for independence without delay.
“IPOB recognises the suffering of other ethnic groups all over Nigeria and would genuinely wish their humiliation and difficulties to be brought to an end. We want every ethnic group in Nigeria to be free from the bondage of colonial amalgamation imposed on everybody.
Therefore, it would be desirable for those championing true change to embrace this act of civil disobedience championed by IPOB to liberate all oppressed people in Nigeria,” it further said.
The secessionist group urged other ethnic groups in Nigeria to understand that IPOB under Mazi Kanu was not pushing for an independent Biafra state to spite any tribe or group of persons, but rather to provide a chance for decent living, under liberty and freedom, for Biafran generations unborn.
However, the Anambra State Police Command yesterday said the proscribed IPOB cannot stop Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
Reacting to the protest in Onitsha, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Nkeiruka Nwode (ASP), said the group’s action yesterday amounted to nothing as the state police command was on top of security situations in the state.
According to him, the police in the state had concluded arrangements for effective policing of the state during the election, stressing: “INEC has fixed the election and it must hold. Nobody or group can stop it”.
She assured the people of the state of adequate security during the poll, and asked them to go out en masse to exercise their franchise on the election day.
Also speaking on the security situation ahead of the November 18 governorship election, a red neck officer in the army told Saturday Sun that based on current intelligence, the military will most likely deploy men and equipment to the state to check IPOB members.
“The Army will continue to carry out its routine duties not just in Anambra but across the country. As you know, the army does not engage in election duties, that is why we don’t deploy soldiers to the poling booth. There are enough security agencies on ground in Anambra to monitor and ensure a smooth and crisis free election.
The soldiers will only be moved in if there is a crisis that is beyond the capability of the police to handle, that is where we come in. But for now the soldiers will continue to carry on with their routine duties and ensure the safety of all”, the source added.