There are indications that all is not well with the secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
This is as the highest decision making organ of the group, Directorate of State (DOS) has said that there are no plans to disrupt election in the South-East, but shortly thereafter, another group countered that position, Njenje Media News reports.
Videos of a breakaway member of the group, Mr Simon Ekpa, a Nigeria/Finland citizen had insisted that no election would hold in the zone. Ekpa in a video that went viral on social media had threatened that there will be no election in the South-East in 2023, vowing that IPOB will disrupt the process.
But the media and publicity secretary of the group, Emma Powerful in a press statement last week said there is no truth in any information circulating on plans to disrupt election in Igboland.
Powerful in the statement said: “The IPOB leadership has for the umpteenth time stated unequivocally that part of our modus operandi in our agitation for freedom has never been, is not and will not be violent agitation. This explains our consistent demand for the UN to organise a Referendum in the Biafran territory for the Biafran people to determine their destiny. To this effect, IPOB is neither contemplating nor will it encourage or sponsor anyone or group to disrupt the Nigeria shambolic selection process called election. IPOB has constantly made it public that we have no interest in and cannot legitimise the aberration they call election in Nigeria. We are a focused, determined and disciplined freedom fighting movement not political thugs and IPOB is devoted to the cause of liberating our people from subjugation and from modern day slavery and Neo-colonialism and will not allow ourselves to be distracted from this very objective. If in the future IPOB Leadership decides to make further statement on the upcoming Nigeria selection process called election, we shall make such statement through our official channels.”
The above had sparked a debate about the unity in the group, as Ekpa has severally made broadcasts, in the name of IPOB, including fundraising, and has severally declared sit-at-home protest in the name of the group, which were honoured by people in the South East. For an average man like Sylvester Sunday, a phone accessories dealer in Aroma junction, Awka: “To me, all of them are the same. Any time they declare their sit-at-home, I just obey.”
Emma Powerful in a WhatsApp exchange asked that all utterances of Ekpa be discarded and ignored, as he was neither a member of IPOB, not had he powers to speak for the group.
Powerful said: “You shouldn’t take what Simon Ekpa said because it won’t hold water. He is nobody in relevance and popularity. IPOB has no business in Nigeria selection called election and besides Simon Ekpa is never IPOB member and I don’t know why you equate his strategies with IPOB strategy. I called you before and informed you never to write whatever Simon Ekpa says, Simon Ekpa never introduced any new thing unless what IPOB introduced. Monday Sit-at-home was issued by IPOB and cancelled and he capitalise on it and is causing problem. Tell your people or friends to stop joining my statement with Simon Ekpa unless they have intentions to destroy IPOB which cannot work for them.”
Meanwhile, the discharge and acquittal of Nnamdi Kanu by the Court of Appeal on Thursday has raised mixed feelings among many. Many believe that Kanu’s release would help him to come out of detention and take a firm stand on the information he had been passing from prison through third party, he would be able to totally proclaim by himself that there would be no election boycott in the South East. Doing so, he would reign in the like of Ekpa and other alleged criminals operating in the South East in the name of IPOB.
But on the other hand, some people believe that the release of Kanu may be an orchestrated plot to use him to scare South easterners into voter apathy, as he would most likely insist on the realisation of Biafra, against peaceful election in the South East.
At UNIZIK junction, Awka, where some supporters of Kanu were jubilating over his recent discharge, a supporter, whose name was simply given as Oga Boss said: “Now that Kanu is on his way out of prison, let me see how all these people who are using his name to cause trouble can continue. Be it Simon Ekpa, who does not always listen anytime Kanu passes a message from prison, or all those people who go about kidnapping and dropping the name of IPOB, let me see how they will not listen when Kanu speaks.”
There have been news of how some people who were loyal to Kanu had been using his name to make money for themselves since Kanu has been in prison. During the Anambra governorship election in 2021, which was also the very peak of violence in the State, where many areas were declared very dangerous to visit, a governorship aspirant from a popular political party had to part with millions of Naira to persons who pledged loyalty to Kanu, just to assure there will be safety as the candidate flagged-off his campaign.
Meanwhile, two respondents, Victoria Mmerichukwu and Nwama Lubia who commented on Facebook said it is still suspicious how all charges against Kanu were dropped. They believe it may be a grand plot to use Kanu, through his release, to distract the Igbo.
“It’s indeed suspicious! I see it as a strategy, to bring division among Ndigbos. Because, for sure some will be agitating for Igbo Presidency while others Biafra, which they might (cause) declaration of no election in South East” they said.