A lawyer for the pro-Biafra group, IPOB, has said there will be accountability, a day after a deadly clash between security agents and members of the group reportedly left many dead.
The State Security Service said two of its operatives were killed in an unprovoked attack Sunday in Emene, Enugu, but the Indigenous People of Biafra denied the claim, saying 21 of its members were massacred by state agents as they held a peaceful meeting.
“Whoever takes the life of an IPOB member is taking the life of an Igbo and therefore will ultimately account to Ndigbo. It’s not a threat; it’s a fact,” the lawyer, Aloy Ejimakor, said in a statement Monday.
IPOB, a group that has been outlawed by the Nigerian government, has been agitating for a sovereign state for the Igbo in Nigeria. Several of its members have been killed in the past by security officials, including Nigerian soldiers, who clamped down on their activities.
Mr Ejimakor, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES, said, “A famous Nigerian politician once said (in spirited defense of the Yoruba) that ‘before I became a Nigerian, I was Yoruba’. And another one said: ‘We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes’.
“The Yoruba has, in moderation, said his own. The Fulani has, in extremism, said his own. Let me now, as an Igbo, say my own, and here it is: Whoever takes the life of an IPOB member is taking the life of an Igbo and therefore will ultimately account to Ndigbo. It’s not a threat; it’s a fact.”
Mr Ejimakor, who said the IPOB’s gathering in Emene was “peaceable exercise of their constitutional rights”, rejected the views that “those killed are just IPOB members”.
He added, “Yes, they might be IPOB members. But guess what? Everybody in the former Eastern Nigeria who disagrees with the fratricidal mess that has become Nigeria is an IPOB member, overtly or covertly.
“They don’t have to carry a registration card for you to be certain that they are IPOB members. All you need to do is to talk with them to convince yourself that they are IPOB members.
“An IPOB member is simply any Eastern Nigerian (especially the Igbo) who will rather have Biafra than a Nigeria that eats her children, especially her Igbo children. And they are in the millions; they are legion; some are above ground; some are in sleeper cells. And they are not ‘miscreants’; they are the Igbo gentry, the elites, the masses, the warts and all.”
Continuing, the lawyer said, “And to be sure, they were Igbos before they became Nigerians. And even as Nigeria notoriously disdains the Igbo but still wants to keep him in Nigeria, the Igbo remains an Igbo for now and forever, alive or dead. Nobody can change that. No subliminal narrative of ‘just IPOB’ can change that.
“Therefore, while it’s correct to say that those killed are “members” of IPOB, it’s wrong to slant it in a way that seeks to detach them from the whole. That whole is mainly Ndigbo, a people that are not terrorists but are branded as such; a people that do not bear arms but are treated as such and thus extrajudicially murdered at the slightest excuse.”
Mr Ejimakor insisted that those responsible for the killing of IPOB members would be held to account within or at the “appropriate forum” outside Nigeria.
“There shall be no statute of limitation stopping it. And sovereign immunity will not be a shield but a sword,” he said.
“I say it advisedly, not as the Special Counsel to the IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu (which I am), but as an Igbo who is personally wounded and bereaved any time an innocent Igbo life is taken by rulers of a Nigerian State that will rather pardon a terrorist and kill the unarmed Igbo, while foolishly thinking that there will be no consequences.”
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