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IPOB: All You Need To Know

If you have been hearing or seeing IPOB a lot these days and you have wondered what it means, this article has all you need to know. 

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a separatist movement that was established in 2012 in southeast Nigeria with the aim of peacefully reestablishing former Biafra. The Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM), which are alleged to have inspired the organization, carried out their actions less radically but had identical goals. 

According to Ekpo and Agorye (2018), MASSOB’s failure to accomplish its mission set the stage for the creation of IPOB, a more radical organization. The radical organization was established with the intention of seceding and giving the South Easterners control of the Republic of Biafra.

IPOB, which is composed primarily of members of the Igbo ethnic group, is firmly committed to the independence of Biafra, which its adherents believe can be attained by secession from Nigeria.

History of IPOB

The birth of IPOB is directly linked to a separatist movement that began in the 1960s. 

The movement, which was led by Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, claimed to speak for the people of the SouthEast region, who felt disenfranchised by a central administration that was predominated by individuals from the country’s north.

They, therefore, aspired to establish the Republic of Biafra in order to free themselves from the constraints of the Nigerian government. The authorities’ inability to defuse the situation led to a Civil War that raged between 1967 to 1970.

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IPOB is a nationalist separatist party in Nigeria that seeks to bring back the Republic of Biafra. It was formed by Nnamdi Kanu as a breakaway group of the “compromised” Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

Since its founding in 2012, the group has pushed for an independent state for the Eastern region through a referendum, led by Nnamdi Kanu and his deputy Uche Okafor-Mefor.

In solidarity with the secessionist Biafra that existed in the Southeast from May 30, 1967, to January 15, 1970, the group itself was born and developed its ideology.

The Ideology

The ideology behind IPOB is that of separatism and nationalism, the latter in the sense of the primordial perspective. It is a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct groupings based on an affinity of birth.

The Ideology of IPOB

The agenda is to restore the independent state of Biafra, which was formed in the old Eastern Region of Nigeria by Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Ojukwu was an officer in the Nigerian Army, a commander of the 5th Battalion domiciled in Kano, and later Military Governor of the Eastern Region before he revolted and a civil war ensued from July 17th, 1967 to January 15th, 1970.

The Nigerian Government and IPOB

It has been a game of flying accusations between the Nigerian government and IPOB. 

On September 18, 2017, the Federal High Court in Abuja declared the IPOB to be a terrorist group. IPOB fought against this ban and aimed to get the court’s ruling overturned in 2018. However, the Terrorism Act of Nigeria continues to list IPOB as a terrorist organization.

Sources claim that the Nigerian government used brutal and disproportionate police force to put an end to pro-Biafran movements. 

According to a report by Amnesty International, numerous IPOB protestors were killed between May 29 and May 30, 2016, as a result of a government effort to stop IPOB members from moving from Nkpor Motor Park to a rally.

Extrajudicial executions in Biafra have been documented by human rights organizations. They assert that 400 people were arrested, accused, or jailed without a fair hearing between August 2015 and February 2016 as well as 170 unarmed citizens were slain.

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Leadership Structure 

IPOB's Leadershi[p Structure

Nnamdi Kanu, a dual British and Nigerian citizen, is the head of the Indigenous People of Biafra. He first became well-known for his broadcasts on Radio Biafra, which was founded in 2009, before he later founded IPOB.

Radio Biafra was a radio station from London that aired calls for the “freedom of Biafrans” and denounced Nigeria’s administration for corruption. This was the cause of Kanu’s rise to prominence, as he was previously an unknown figure.

Kanu has been taken into custody multiple times by Nigerian security forces on suspicion of “sedition, ethnic incitement, and treasonable felony.”

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What is IPOB fighting for? 

IPOB has denounced the Nigerian federal government for its lack of investment, political alienation, unequal resource distribution, racial marginalization, and a strong military presence as well as extrajudicial murders in the country’s South-Eastern, South-Central, and some of its North-Central regions.

As earlier explained, the civil war was a result of the secession of eastern Nigeria, led by Major Ojukwu. After the war, Biafra was forced to come back to Nigeria as part of thttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Civil_Warhe country. 

In 2014, there arose another agitation from separatists to secede from Nigeria after the expiration of the amalgamation law. 

The Amalgamation Law

Since 2014, agitators contend that the 1914 union of northern and southern Nigeria was the result of a consent to merge reached by the inhabitants of those regions. 

Many claim that an ouster or severance clause was put into the merger treaty and that it has since expired in 2014. 

A good example of this is Konye Obaji Ori, who stated in 2013 that the British Edict of 1914 would expire on December 31, 2013 and that we would need to agree on whether to renew it or not.

According to him, “the document that amalgamated Nigeria into one country would expire. The British colonial edict of 1914 could be renewed or denounced, and the Nigerian state could stay united or split into several entities.”

In a similar vein, Tony Nnadi, a lawyer and the secretary general of Movement for New Nigeria, stated in 2014 that as of 2014, Nigeria no longer existed because the merger treaty’s term had expired and that the ethnic nations were free to declare autonomy for themselves. 

Now it is unclear if this treaty stands as there are no records or documentation of the said agreement. 

IPOB Going Foward

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has declared that on May 30, 2023, there would be a sit-at-home protest in the southeast of Nigeria.

IPOB Going Foward

The civil action, according to the IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful, was meant to pay tribute to those who have died since the struggle for Biafra independence began in 1967.

As an act of protest against the detention of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB introduced a sit-at-home order every Monday across the South-east. 

This sit-at-home is to pressure the Nigerian government to release its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is standing trial for alleged terrorism at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The separatist group later suspended the order, in preference for it to be implemented only on the days Mr. Kanu appears in court.

On a Final note: IPOB

IPOB has an agenda that has been clear from the beginning and that is an independent state of Biafra. The group has tried to achieve this with peaceful protests, political meetings, and support from international organizations.

However, it would seem like Nigeria is not ready to give up on the East anytime soon.