From Jude Okafor, Enugu

There is apprehension within the ranks of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) following the leadership vacuum created by the absence of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.  The separatist campaigner has been in detention at the Department of State Services (DSS), Abuja, for weeks, following his alleged state-sponsored kidnap in Kenya by the Nigerian security agencies. At the moment, he is waiting to be formally arraigned over charges bordering on treasonable felony.

Kanu’s continued detention has caused seeming leadership crisis in the organization. This is because, before his state capture, repatriation and detention, known as “extraordinary rendition,” he was sole giver of order and law. He was fully in control and members, deputies and assistants took orders directly from him or his broadcasts on Radio Biafra.

But right now there appears to be some unease and rising tension following the vacuum created by his absence. The direct-order link is said to be totally missing and members are now said to rely solely on messages passed through his lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor. That, some sources say, is the crux of the matter.

While some members and leaders are said to believe and work with that, there are others who contend that they have no way of knowing and confirming independently, as they used to do in the past, as to whether the said orders, directives and instructions are actually coming from him or not.

Some leaders who are intent on hijacking the association and taking over the leadership have been busy pushing this line of argument, and poising the minds of some members in the process, the sources said. They pointed to as evidence the haphazard manner the group coordinated its recently suspended Monday-Monday sit-at-home order in South East and parts of South-South. The order and counter order that trailed the exercise which took effect from the Monday of August 9, 2021, they said, exposed the seeming leadership vacuum in IPOB.

Barely 48 hours to the commencement of the exercise, the IPOB leader’s younger brother, Kanunta, issued a statement suspending the order citing as reason the ongoing National Examinations Council (NECO) exams for SS3 candidates. But this was immediately countered by the group’s spokesman, Emmanuel Powerful, who insisted that only the Head, Directorate of State, Chika Edoziem, had powers to issue such directive. Not expectedly, residents of the South East ignored the suspension order by Kanu’s younger brother.

But the exercise was eventually suspended for the next Monday, reportedly after some consultations. It was gathered that some aggrieved members initially expressed disbelief that their leader, Kanu, knew about, and approved the suspension order by his brother, Kanunta. That was until Kanu’s lead counsel, Ejiofor, issued a statement confirming that Kanu approved the suspension of the sit-at-home.

The latest information reaching Saturday Sun is that some members of IPOB have accused its leadership of sabotage over the development. On the other hand, Ejiofor has alleged that the confusion among some IPOB members was caused by the presence of some “infiltrators” in IPOB, who are not loyalists of Nnamdi Kanu. He regretted the development, saying that, “in this critical moment, peace and discipline should be the ultimate guide. What we crave is your prayers only.”

But, at the same time, he assured that the legal team would not be distracted by any machinations from the so-called infiltrators or their agents. A statement by Powerful on Thursday not only reiterated that Kanu was aware of the suspension of the sit-at-home order but also further confirmed the crack within the organisation. It warned against attacks on the legal team, saying that Kanu was not mis-represented.

His statement noted IPOB’s disappointment with some “fellows and mischief-makers” who are busy insulting, criticizing and attacking Ifeanyi Ejiofor for giving his nod to the suspension of the Monday weekly sit-at-home. “Despite our earlier explanations on the rationale behind our decision to suspend the Monday sit-at-home order, some fellows are still disparaging our lead counsel and our leadership over the decisions,” he said.

“We wish to, therefore, advise all those playing the devil’s advocate to desist in their own interest and stop giving our enemies room to mock us. IPOB is a well-structured and organised movement with clear-cut hierarchical structure as well. Henceforth, IPOB will no longer take lightly any act of insubordination from anybody or from any quarter irrespective of one’s status on our Leader’s lawyers. They have not taken any action inimical to the struggle to warrant the embarrassing and undeserved insults from some uninformed folks.

“There is no reason, therefore, for anyone especially IPOB family members to reciprocate Ejiofor’s sacrifices with insults. The facts in the public domain evidences multiple attempts by the Nigeria security agencies to eliminate Ejiofor at all costs because they have failed to get him compromised. Instead of appreciating him for defending our leader at the risk of his own life, some mischief-makers are trying to accuse him of sabotage. This is not only ridiculous but stupidity taken too far.”

Sources say there is a fierce battle going on for the control of the structures of IPOB. The plot is expected to thicken in the coming days. This is even as two governors (names withheld) from South East are said to be discussing some soft-landing for the IPOB leader.