- By Chiagozie Nwonwu
- BBC News, Lagos
The continual horrific murders, kidnappings and extortion do not cause many southeast Nigerians to live in fear. An armed group was fighting for the region’s independence, but the line between the campaign and criminality was unclear.
Di riots do not force pipo to flee the villages with dem bin de and live a peaceful life until just a few years ago.
“My uncle bin ran away from the village for the sake of dis pipo, ask me to give them money to buy guns and bullets. Our villages are empty for the sake of saying na dem be di law now,” a man we call Chike Anyikwa , so get fit, protect me from revenge.
Now dem camp in the nearby forests, the armed men form a parallel group for the Anyikwa ancestral village, and many odes, for Imo State, along with Anambra State, bear the brunt of the conflict.
Similar camps exist for three states of Oda, Abia, Ebonyi and Enugu, which make up the southeast, where the fighters are to become the independent state of Biafra.
Gunmen do not seize the powers of government officials and traditional rulers. If someone wants to do a wedding or burial ceremony, he needs the permission of the day and must pay the money to adjust.
Gang leaders don’t even take responsibility for settling fights among villagers over issues like land rights, which is no sign of the level of control they don’t have.
Oga Anyikwa lives for the city of Enugu and, like thousands of odes, has not spent the last two Christmases in my village, breaking with the tradition of reconnecting with my ancestral roots.
“A relative does the traditional marriage for our town. No one goes. Don’t be afraid to let anyone go. The security officers come from Owerri [di capital of Imo State] and give back because of many of the di no give police stations destroyed.
“Di law wey pipo sabi be di one wey di unknown gunmen sama dem, who say dem be for Biafra, but we know how to say dem no be,” he adds.
The creation of Biafra will be a long-cherished dream of many Igbo Pipo who want the southeast and part of the Niger Delta to be an independent homeland.
Di civil war and birth of Biafra
Dem are popular for their business skills, the Igbo are the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria, accounting for around 15% of the estimated Di Kontri population of around 217 million, according to statista.com.
The secessionist campaign first gained ground in the 1960s, when an Igbo army officer, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared the birth of Biafra, but the secession attempt ended after a bloody three-year war that sparked more than one million deaths from the fighting. hunger and lack of medical care.
Despite the failure of Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu’s campaign, secessionist sentiment has continued since then, with the last standard-bearer being the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) group.
E dey was formed in 2012 by two Igbos from the UK, Nnamdi Kanu and Uche Mefor, as a peaceful movement.
E don split into different factions, some of which were more violent and less disciplined, and caused Ipob to lose the support of many Igbos who were backed when they formed.
The Nigerian government does not outlaw Ipob and the court does not designate it as a “terrorist” organization.
Attacks across the region by gunmen, though Nigerian security agencies are linked to the group, have not killed hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces since the violence began in 2020.
Women, children and the elderly are not spared.
For a horrible case of violence during the Christmas holidays, the video of a naked woman became a trend on social networks.
Pipo later identified her as a Nigerian army officer, wey bin went to visit her grandmother in Abia state, when the gunmen kidnapped her and posted a video threatening to kill her.
A female soldier traveling for her traditional marriage was also kidnapped in May 2022 and her captors released a video showing her being killed and cut up. Her fiancé, a retired soldier, and my nephew were also killed by men claiming to be separatists.
The kidnappers of the army officers call themselves Unknown Gunmen who fight for Biafra and deny that they are connected to Ipob.
Although many of the gangs identify themselves for the videos, apparently laff di media wey often attribute violence in the region to unknown gunmen.
Eyewitnesses told the BBC that the soybeans burned houses and businesses for the villages as they searched for the army officer and his kidnappers.
Tok-tok pesin for di 34 Artillery Brigade for Obinze for Imo State, Capt Joseph Akubo, bin di di BBC say say soys not responsible for the arson attacks.
Vigilante groups, which are formed with government backing to help curb insecurity, are also not accused of atrocities: one popular case was the murder of five young men who Pipo says returned from the wedding to Awomama village. , also for the state of Imo, by July 2022.
Chigozie Ekesinachi, I am two brothers who are among the dead, they say that the state-sponsored vigilante group Ebubeagu is behind the murders.
A video released later shows two elderly men being tortured by their captors and accused of being spoilers of the Biafran independence campaign.
Many traditional chiefs are also kidnapped and palaces of the day are burned or killed by suspected separatists.
Chidiebube Okeoma, a journalist covering Imo state for the Nigeria Punch newspaper, says insecurity is spreading to the state capital.
“Owerri bin are popular for nightlife activity, but all those don’t go now for the kill pockets. When pipo sees strange faces, they hide. If a car tire blows, pipo starts running. Imo no be as before”, and tok.
The city, like all Oda cities and towns in the southeast, is deserted every Monday as separatists impose a “sit at home” order, businesses, schools and government offices close.
E does not cause students to miss important exams and companies can suffer huge financial losses.
“Even the governors are inside diagnostic houses, they obey the order to stay at home,” added Oga Anyikwa.
I am afraid that many pipo for the southeast will not be able to vote in the general elections next month, since some of the separatist factions do not ask pipo to boycott the polls.
In addition, armed men, claiming to say that they are acting for the cause of Biafra, attack the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and pipo register to vote. Dem will also kill an INEC staff member by 2022.
“I am very ashamed about the state of insecurity in the south-east,” said Oga Anyikwa.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who fought for the Nigerian side during the Biafran civil war, did not promise to treat separatists for “say language they understand” by June 2021, prompting widespread criticism and the removal of his tweet on Twitter.
Oga Okeoma hopes that Buhari’s successor will take steps to resolve the southeastern conflict and conflicts over ode in parts of Nigeria.
“E ser fault de goment”, e tok.
“It would be something that would fit together and be resolved if a holistic approach was followed,” added Oga Okeoma.