The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has cautioned that members of the group would retaliate should security agencies exhibit any traces of brutality during the burial of the late Eze Israel Okwu Kanu and his wife, Ugoeze Sally Mmeme at Afaraukwu in Umuahia, Abia State today, Friday, February 14, 2020.
“We the global family of IPOB wish to state in clear and unambiguous terms that what the Nigeria police and army are planning to do in Afaraukwu during the burial of Israel Okwu Kanu and his wife on Friday, February 14, 2020 will set-off a chain reaction from which Nigeria will never recover,” IPOB warned in a statement issued yesterday in Awka by its spokesman, Emma Powerful.
The leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu’s parents died last year and their remains would be laid to rest at their Afaraukwu home in Umuahia. But security agencies, including police and soldiers have laid siege to the community, as members of the public have accused the Federal Government of heightening tension in the South East.
Huhuonline.com has spotted a huge police and military presence deployed in the area, and have been patrolling the community, ostensibly to stop IPOB members from participating in the funeral; including Nnamdi Kanu, who has been declared wanted by the government on treason charges, for allegedly jumping bail. But IPOB insist it will neither cower nor cringe in the face of intimidation.
In its statement, IPOB warned that any attack on its members would ignite reprisals that might have devastating effects within the country and beyond. “Any arbitrary arrest of any member on Friday is capable of inciting a disproportionate reaction from angry mourners. What is happening in Umuahia with the presence of army and police officers is an insult to Biafrans and the Igbo race in particular.
“All those who have supported the unprovoked murderous clampdown on IPOB will pay dearly for it. IPOB has remained peaceful, but it seems the Nigerian government is bent on provoking us into armed struggle that will inevitably precipitate the violent disintegration of the country,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, the international human rights group, Amnesty International (AI) has enjoined the Nigerian military and police to reduce the rising tension ahead of Friday’s funeral. The rights group said in a statement in Abuja that it has received reports of heavy military presence in the Afaraukwu Community as soldiers continue to patrol the area. It noted that the funeral programme of Eze Okwu Kanu and his wife will take place on February 14, as eyewitnesses told AI that they saw several military vehicles including Hilux and military SUVs patrolling the community since Sunday, February 2, 2020.
Country Director of AI, Osai Ojigho, said, “Nigerian security forces must exercise restraint and prevent a repetition of the September 2017 incident that left no fewer than 20 people killed and some still missing, when the military attempted to arrest Nnamdi Kanu.”Ojigho stressed that concerns about possible violence during the funeral must be addressed within the framework of international human rights and rule of law.