In what looks like setting the stage for a showdown with the police in Abia State, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) said yesterday that its members would attend the burial of the parents of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, next Friday, February 14, at Afaraukwu, Ibeku, Umuahia; in defiance of a police order warning members of the group to steer clear of the funeral if they want it to go smoothly.
“If the military might of the Almajiri Nigerian North, grand conspiracy of the judiciary and mind-numbing treachery of Igbo governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo could not stop IPOB, how much less an unknown Fulani boy-boy and servant in police uniform in Umuahia,” IPOB said in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful.
The police through its Commissioner in Abia State, Ene Okon, had vowed that they would not sit down and allow IPOB participate in the burial, stressing that it had reached out “to the prime minister of Afaraukwu and told him that if they want the burial to go on smoothly and for police to give them security, they should tell IPOB not to near the area not to talk of participating in the burial.”
But Powerful in the statement condemned the police stance, saying such had never happened in history in the country. “In the sad history of Nigeria, never has there been an edict or warning issued against those mourning the passing of loved ones.” Insisting that its members would attend the burial, IPOB added: “It is important we inform the Fulani masters of this Okon and those parading themselves as military officers in Afaraukwu Umuahia to beware because they cannot stop IPOB from coming to the burial of our leader’s parents on February 14, 2020. All the years of threats and brutal crackdowns on IPOB have all resulted in making IPOB more defiant, determined and ruthless in our pursuit of the noble goal of Biafra liberation.”
Meanwhile, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has warned the Abia State police commissioner to desist from creating artificial tension in the state and allow the bereaved family and sympathisers to concentrate on the burial arrangements for the late traditional ruler of Afaraukwu, Eze Israel Kanu and his wife, Ugoeze Sally Kanu. MASSOB expressed worry that police interference, through unguided and insensitive statements on the burial of the late traditional ruler of Afaraukwu and his wife, is creating distraction and confusion in the Afaraukwu community and the Southeast region in general. The MASSOB Leader, Uchenna Madu, in a statement yesterday in Awka, while condemning the activities of Abia State Police Command, urged the state Commissioner of Police to order and caution that police steer clear and allow the mourners bury their dead.
The public shouting match between IPOB and the Abia state police came in the wake of an appeal by Igbo youths to President Muhammadu Buhari to grant a presidential pardon to IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu to allow him attend the funeral of his parents. Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the national president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC), in a statement in Abakaliki at the weekend, urged Buhari to grant the pardon to Kanu to enable him bury his father with respect and dignity as Igbo tradition demands; failure to which passions will only hardened and pro-IPOB support for Biafran independence would intensify.
Huhuonline.com understands that as a matter of tradition and culture, first sons in Igboland are duty-bound to give their parents, especially the father, a befitting burial; and Kanu, being the first son of the late king, is expected to be present to organise proper obsequies for his late father. Isiguzoro said OYC was worried about the military presence in Kanu’s village, Afaraukwu; a few days to the burial, ostensibly to arrest the IPOB leader on arrival.
Tension has been mounting in Abia after soldiers invaded Kanu’s home last week. The military’s action invited condemnation by Ndigbo and MASSOB; who warned that they would not condone any action that could undermine the security of the Southeast zone by the army. Eye-witness accounts said that fierce-looking soldiers numbering about 100 barricaded and occupied roads leading to the Afaraukwu residence of Kanu.
The development reportedly created tension in the area, as traders locked up their shops and scampered to safety, as the soldiers patrolled the area in two Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). The invasion was said to be linked to next Friday’s burial of Kanu’s parents. Ndigbo deputy national publicity secretary, Chuks Ibegbu in a statement expressed dismay with the “undue military incursion around the home of Nnamdi Kanu few days to the burial of his parents” and cautioned against any breach in the security of lives and property of the people. MASSOB also condemned the continuous patrol of the army around the palace of the late Eze Kanu and the temporary blockage of the road leading to the palace.