From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
As the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) marks its 18th anniversary on September 13, 2017, founder and leader of Biafra Independence Movement, (BIM), Chief Ralph Uwazurike, yesterday said the struggle for a sovereign Biafran State can never be declared illegal since the same struggle for Nigeria’s independence from the British colonialists was not termed unlawful. Uwazurike who spoke through BIM’S Director of Information, Mazi Chris Mocha, during the 2017 New Yam festival at Obinagu, Umolum in Ayamelum Local Council Area of the state, stated that the United Nations,(UN) had not abrogated the principle of self-determination after the body granted independence to Nigeria in 1960 hence the reason he had taken up the fight for freedom which involves enemies at home and outside Igbo land. While naming the challenges to the new Biafra struggle, he disclosed that more than six million registered members of MASSOB and BIM are expected to take part in the peaceful outing in Onitsha, Anambra State, and said the road to achieving the New Biafra nation is perilous and full of bumps. Uwazurike attributed the successes recorded by MASSOB-BIM in the past 18 years to God Almighty, saying that people are beginning to know the difference between them and other groups.
“While we have maintained non-violence others do the opposite,” Uwazuruike.
The Ijele Ndigbo further revealed that history of the contemporary world is behind him just as the history of the modern world is full of instances where indigenous people who felt marginalized within the larger entities also struggled for, and later won their independence.
He recalled that the founding fathers of Nigeria like Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro and others took great risk in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence and at one point or another were tagged rebels by the government of their days and were hunted from pillar-to-post. Uwazuruike noted that in fighting for freedom for the greater number of his Igbo kinsmen, he had lost his freedom 16 times, suffering detention without trial, survived assassination attempts, torture and imprisonment in Lagos, Abuja and Owerri.
“Since after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, the Igbo nation has been subjected to a similar situation which made me bring out the non-violent genius of Mahatma Ghandhi, insisting that allowing fear to dissuade us from the Biafra struggle would be tantamount to cooperating with the status quo and willingly accepting slavery and inferior status for myself and the Igbo tribe,” he said.