We observe that while the Nigerian constitution guarantees freedom of speech and association, the right to self determination is an “inalienable right of all peoples and or indigenous peoples by virtue of which they can freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development” as enshrined in the founding Charter of the United Nations. In addition, other international and regional instruments including the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights of 1981, the Helsinki Final Act adopted by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in 1975, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action 1993 amongst others have all adopted the fundamental right to self determination as an integral part of their statutes. The international court of justice (ICJ) has likewise validated the right to self determination as guaranteed by international law in several judgements including the Namibia case, the East Timor case and the Kosovo case in 2010.
Igbo Ekunie Initiative therefore find it strange and unacceptable that whereas the Nigerian state won independence from the British Colonial Government in the first instance on the basis of the right to self determination and whereas Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other self determination agitators were never arrested by the British Colonial authorities in the course of advocating self rule, the Nigerian state has oddly chosen to kill, brutalise, maim and detain those seeking self rule on the same premise as the founding fathers did. We warn that no nation can ultimately be built or held together by force just as no marriage/association should be by force. The fact of Nigeria’s increasing existential crisis and the proliferation of self determination groups in the aftermath of a civil war fought to keep the country together vindicates the futility of war and or repression as a means of nation building.
We submit that the fundamental drivers of the agitation for self determination/self rule by various groups is rooted in the contradictions, injustices, marginalisation, dysfunctional structure, human rights violations, unitary system, inequality and absence of nation building that are the hallmarks of the Nigerian state. Igbo Ekunie also holds the view that the failure of government to holistically address these underlying issues gives life to the separatist agitation. The sure path to ending separatist agitations includes, the implementation of the National Conference Report of 2014 in the first instance, the further convening of a Sovereign National Conference with the ultimate aim of building national consensus and producing a nation building constitution and the establishment of a nation building commission or ministry charged exclusively with implementing reforms geared towards the consolidation of national integration and unity.
We call on the peace loving people of Ndi-Igbos to remain calm, law abiding and steadfast, and avoid playing into the hands of the current government which is looking for the slightest excuse to descend on them to maim and kill with impunity. The darkest hour of the night is always towards the dawn. Igbo Ekunie encourages Ndi-Igbo to continue with their lawful and dignified defiance and take solace in realization that the end to our slavery is nearer today than how it was yesterday.
Finally, we maintain that a nation must of necessity be built by mutual/democratic consent and not by force. The Quebec Independence Referendum of 1995, Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014 and the Catalonia Independence Referendum of 2015 suffices to vindicate the inalienable right of self determination and nation building through democratic consent to which all people’s are entitled under international law, alongside freedom of speech and of association as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. We therefore call on the federal government to immediately and unconditionally release Nnamdi Kanu and all other detained activists, and to put a stop on the clampdown, maiming and killing of agitators.
Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke
President Igbo Ekunie Initiative
Secretary Igbo Ekunie Initiative