IPOB And The Other Meaning Of Peaceful Protest

By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat

Some time ago, videos of Nnamdi Kanu, the Director of radio Biafra and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) flooded the social media. It was as if someone deliberately released all the videos at the same time to bomb the social space.

Within a very short while, after these videos were released, social media commentators began to make commentary on them, quoting dangerous words claimed to be heard from the so-called London based Biafra agitator, as some commentators described him.

Many, including this writer, who tried to ignore the trending hate speeches couldn’t do so for long because it was everywhere. If you turn right, you will see one commentary with a video attachment, and then when you turn left, you see another one. This continued for some
days until one was forced to watch some of the videos, so as to be sure that all the harsh and violent words credited to Kanu were actually made by him.

In one of the many videos watched by this writer, I heard Mr. Kanu saying, ‘’we will destroy Nigeria, we will ensure Nigeria is worse than Somalia’’. This is like a tone from Boko Haram video. The not so peaceful communicator didn’t stop there, he went further to state that, ‘’we have all the weapons required to carry out this mission, we are ready to give them war, he declared.

Probably after watching some of the videos, the online media outfit, Sahara Reporters reached out to Kanu for an interview. In the Sahara Reporter’s interview conducted by Rudolf Okonkwo, Kanu was asked to explain what he was saying in those videos and he reiterated his
the message that his group is ready to destroy Nigeria through violence if they failed to give them Biafra.

Soon after, another video emerged online, in which Mr. Kanu was soliciting funds for arms in preparation for the violence he promised.

The event had in attendance, several Igbo professionals abroad. He made it clear in that event that they are ready for war and only needed funds from the participants.

It is therefore strange, that some people are now claiming that IPOB is a peaceful organization. I had to go back to my dictionary to check the meaning of peaceful once again.

According to the long-man advance dictionary, peaceful means quiet and calm, not involving war or violence. Another meaning of peaceful I saw on Wikipedia tells me that, peaceful means to be free from disturbance, i.e, tranquil.

So, how can a group which threatens war and violence be said to be peaceful? How can a group which threatens to make the country worse than war thorn Somalia be said to be peaceful? I mean, how can a group, which we have the video of their solicitation of funds for arms be said to be peaceful? This really beats my imagination.

Kanu was granted bail on strict conditions due to the nature of his offense. He was said to be sick and requiring medical attention. It was on this basis that he was granted bail in April, 2017.

“Nnamdi Kanu appealed to the court for bail based on health grounds and it is only the living that can stand trial’’.it was reported. “So, i am minded to grant him bail so that he can attend to his health and face his trial alive,” Justice Nyako said.

However, immediately he was released from prison, Kanu flouted all the bail conditions given to him. Instead, he was seen on video disrupting the street and confronting the police, while daring the Federal Government to take action. This became a recurring activity. Soon after, he was seen in parade of uniformed youths, whom he described as the Biafra National Guard and another one he calls Biafra Secret Service. The leader of the so called Guard and Secret Service refereed to him as the Commander in Chief of Biafra Armed Forces, all these
happening on the soil of a sovereign nation, Nigeria.

Besides the above, reports here and there on the social media from victims pointed to the fact that, this group has suppressed the people living within their strong hold, to an extent that anyone who expresses a contrary opinion is attacked and forced to pledge allegiance to their imaginary country, failure to which such person would be brutalized and tortured. Yet, some people still claimed they are peaceful agitators and I am forced to ask, how?

It was the inability of the police to control the situation that warranted the deployment of soldiers to the South East, but unfortunately, the group’s confrontation with the military led to the
lost of lives and the eventual proscription of the group as terrorist organization.
No doubt, IPOB is a violent organization; it is a terrorist organization that should be tamed before it is too late. It may not be
as violent as other known terrorist groups, but its activities point to the fact that, if not quickly tamed, may turn out worse.

It was the same group that killed police and many citizens in Rivers State and Abia, the same group attacked several residents, burn police station, confront soldiers with arms, torture and assault people, burn mosques and many others places across the region.

It is also in the house of this same group, that the security said it found IED, along with some petrol bombs. Certainly, that is not a trait of a peaceful organization. Those who associate peacefulness with the activities of IPOB were being economical with the truth, or
probably unaware of their activities.

While it is saddening that some people lost their lives in the confrontation that led to the proscription of the group as terrorist organization, we must not twist fact, in other to be seen as caring for the victims. Let’s all encourage the innocent members of the group to denounce such association and commit themselves to peace.

Abdulrazaq O. Hamzat is the Executive Director of Foundation for Peace
Professionals (FPP)


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