Following the reservation raised when it named some personalities to speak on its behalf, the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) has clarified its choice of negotiators, saying those named are not IPOB members but eminent persons selected on account of their credibility and forthrightness.
The pro-Biafra group had last week named six eminent persons whom it suggested that a United States congressional delegation should meet to get the facts about the current Biafra agitation.
They are former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme; renowned constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze; Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Archbishop Anthony Obinna; human rights activist, Dr. Arthur Nwankwo, and Gen Alex Madiebo (rtd).
But in a statement jointly issued at the weekend by its spokesmen, Emma Mmezu and Dr. Clifford Iroanya, IPOB regretted that “agents of our oppressors and avid enemies of peace and justice had deliberately and mischievously twisted its choice of the six credible personalities to mean that these great gentlemen have suddenly become IPOB members. This is not so.
“IPOB maintains its position that these visiting delegations ought to endeavour to meet and speak with credible names like Anyaoku, Nwabueze, Ekwueme, and co. That does not in any way translate to any of them suddenly becoming IPOB commanders like one mischievous newspaper terrifying Anyaoku in private unsolicited emails tried to portray,” the statement said
Alluding to Anyaoku’s reported refusal to accept speaking on its behalf, IPOB said it had discovered that some journalists were terrifying Anyaoku and others through unsolicited e-mails in which they asked the eminent Igbo personality, “Sir, is it true that you are appointed IPOB commander?
“We are aware of the activities of enemies of equity, justice and fairness,” the group said, stressing that contrary to the insinuations of those out to make mischief, Anyaoku and those named along with him as credible persons to speak on the Biafra issue are neither IPOB members nor commanders.
The separatist group insisted that it was “convinced that over 90 percent of our people are standing with IPOB today (hence) we dare the Nigerian government to organise a referendum today to ascertain the authenticity of our demand for freedom.”
The group explained that it became necessary for it to name credible persons to speak with any foreign delegation because three weeks ago, the US Consular General visited the South-east on fact finding mission and “surprisingly, he met only with the All Progressives Congress (APC) executive in Enugu and Ohanaeze.
According to IPOB, the two groups misrepresented the reason for its agitation for a free Biafra as they listed “road construction, second Niger Bridge, appointment of more Ndigbo into Buhari’s cabinet, among other inconsequential issues as reasons for our agitation for freedom.”
IPOB further stated that last week “a delegation of US congressional staff arrived from Washington D.C. led by a senior staff of the US embassy in Nigeria, and met with Ohanaeze at Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu, over our agitation for freedom,” adding that the delegation did not speak with credible people.
“Well-meaning and conscientious people all over the world expressed outrage and shock, wondering why in the world these US delegations are desperately avoiding the most credible names from our political space.
“In the world over, fact finding teams usually seek out the most credible names in their search for the truth, not organisations well known to all and sundry as political jobbers and government errand boys like Ohanaeze whose sole agenda today is how to establish a self-serving relationship with the present government as they always do and have done with previous governments,” IPOB stated.
It therefore advised the US congressional delegation and any foreign delegation that would visit the South –east in future for fact finding “to meet with other credible opinion leaders from the clergy, traditional rulers, town union leaders and even student union.”
IPOB reminded those behind the visit of the US delegation that “discreetly arranging to meet with Ohanaeze and scurry away the next day is suspicious.”
By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
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