The groups were reacting to the statement of the president on Al Jazeera television where he claimed that he would not tolerate Biafra.
IPOB, whose leader, Nnamdi Kanu is undergoing trial for treasonable felony in an Abuja High Court, and the two factions of MASSOB led by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and Chinedu Madu respectively, dismissed the president’s statement as empty, saying that he was just deceiving himself.
The Coordinator of IPOB, Dr. Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya who spoke to Sunday Sun in Onitsha, Anambra State, lambasted the president, saying that the Al Jazeera interview only exposed him.
He said that Buhari was “either a coward or that his conscience was pricking him,” hence his refusal to watch a video footage where unarmed Biafrans were butchered by gun-toting and trigger-happy Nigerian soldiers and policemen.
He spoke further: “Buhari intentionally lied by calling us Nigerians, the over two million Biafrans that he and his blood-sucking Nigerian soldiers killed in Owerri axis in 1968. Even after killing these millions of Biafrans, he is now sealing-up the fate of the remaining Biafrans who are alive by making an emphatic statement that because he killed Biafrans, those who are living must not work towards the restoration of the nation of Biafra. Buhari must understand that killing two million Biafrans at Owerri in 1968 will not deter the living Biafrans from working towards the restoration of their nation.
“Buhari further made mockery of himself during the interview by asserting that because someone was not born before or during the war, he should not work towards the restoration of his nation of Biafra. General Buhari must understand that the Arabs started fighting Israel in June 1948 which was 16 months before Benjamin Netanyahu was born, yet the Israeli Prime Minister is still fighting the Arabs till today; just because someone was not born before the war does not mean that the person should continue to live a life of slavery as is the case for all Biafrans living in the present-day Nigeria.
“During the interview, Buhari urged Biafrans to come together and vote for an additional state within Nigeria. We are hereby telling Buhari that statehood within Nigeria is not on the shopping list of Biafrans. What Biafrans want is the total sovereignty of the nation Biafra. We do not want to exist inside Nigeria as one of its states.”
An obviously angry Iroanya also said: “Buhari made an awkward statement that Biafrans are interfering with ‘the troops’ and the ‘economy’ and that because of this, Nigeria will not tolerate Biafra. One begins to wonder on which occasion did Biafrans ‘encounter and interfere’ with Nigerian troops other than the fact that Nigerian soldiers are always looking for defenseless Biafrans and mowing them down with their AK-47 rifles.
“If we may ask, in what ways are Biafrans interfering with the economy of Nigeria? Did Biafrans cause the dwindling price of crude oil? Perhaps, Buhari needs to explain more on what he meant by interfering with the troops and the economy.”
“Somebody should remind Buhari that Lord Lugard created Nigeria and not God Almighty and so like the USSR, it will collapse. We the IPOB Worldwide have decided not to back down on the quest for restoration of Biafra. Nigeria is not bigger than USSR or Buhari stronger than Mikail Gorbachev. Buhari can kill Biafrans as he did in 1967-1970 but this time will not be the same.”
From Aba in Abia State also came a rekindled hope by MASSOB to actualize Biafra.
Leader of the Uwazuruike faction, Chief Solomon Chukwu, said categorically that there was no going back on the struggle by the people of the former Eastern region to have an independent state of Biafra.
Chukwu reminded President Buhari that the struggle for Biafra had gone beyond the stage where any force could stop it.
He stated that the people of the former Eastern region had tolerated Nigeria for too long, and could no longer bear glaring injustice as the people had unanimously resolved to have an independent state where they would find greater satisfaction.
His words: “I think President Buhari missed the point when he said Nigeria won’t tolerate Biafra. He needs to be reminded that Biafra had gone past that stage. Now, we are determined to go; Biafra means freedom, satisfaction, expression and accommodation for the people of the former Eastern region, which they can’t find in Nigeria.
“The people of the former Eastern region have no future in Nigeria where we are treated as third class citizens. So, Mr. President was only pretending on the issue of Biafra. Biafra has tolerated Nigeria for too long, now we are determined to go. It is no longer how, but when, Biafra is at hand.”
Chukwu who spoke through his National Director of Information, Sunny Okereafor, accused Buhari of double standard through his support for the granting of statehood to Palestine while he continues to frustrate the agitation for Biafra, including the killing and detention of the agitators.
“Since he came to power, President Buhari had at several international meets called for the granting of statehood to Palestine, but he won’t tolerate agitation for Biafra in his country. Is this not a case of pretension and double standard? President Buhari goes about championing the Palestine cause and calling for the release of their detained political prisoners; yet back home, he has political prisoners who he vowed not to release,” Chukwu said.
Also from the MASSOB headquarters in Okwe, Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State, the Uchenna Madu faction called the president’s bluff. Madu said: “For Buhari to say his Nigeria won’t tolerate Biafra is an assertion of a frustrated man who has lost major focus on international and diplomatic politics.”
The MASSOB leader said that “the level of Biafra actualization has gone beyond Buhari’s imagination and comprehension as long as Ndigbo and Easterners in general live, Biafra can never be subdued by Nigeria. The international community should stop Buhari’s diplomatic propaganda against Biafra. MASSOB and IPOB will continue to toe the line of non-violence in our pursuit for Biafra. MASSOB and IPOB can no longer tolerate the systematic killing and invasion of our land in the name of cattle grazing, 70 per cent of Fulani herdsmen in Eastern region are Northern trained secret army assigned for devastation and secret killing of Biafrans.
“Buhari’s comment on not tolerating Biafra is open evidence that non-violence activities of MASSOB, IPOB, Lower Niger Congress and other Biafran groups in Diaspora are tormenting him, Biafra has become a thorn in Buhari’s neck. We are not moved or deterred by his hypocritical utterances on Biafra.”