Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has described the defunct Biafra Republic which the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) seeks to restore as madness.
The former Eastern Region, which comprises of present-day South-East and South-South geo-political zones, under the leadership of its then military governor, Odumegwu Ojukwu, had in 1967 announced the breakaway from Nigeria.
The breakaway announcement, rejected by the then led military junta of General Yakubu Gowon, led to the civil war which ended 30 months after – January 1970.
After the war, the seceding region was merged back to the nation until IPOB renewed the agitations for self-determination which heightened during the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
Mr Buhari, unlike his predecessor, former president Goodluck Jonathan who ignored Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the separatist group, arrested the secessionist leader at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos State and arraigned him on treasonable charges.
Mr Kanu was granted bail and was released in April 2017 but fled on September of same year after military personnel raided his Afaraukwu home killing dozens in the process.
The IPOB leader later resurfaced in Israel years after and return to London from where he continued his propaganda until in June when he was intercepted and brought back from Kenya to continue his trial.
In December 2020, Kanu launched a paramilitary arm of his group codenamed Eastern Security Network (ESN) which he said was to drive away violent Fulani herdsmen rampaging farmlands in Igbo predominant areas.
Since the security outfit was launched, violent attacks has increased in the South-East region with security agencies hastily accusing IPOB which has continued to distanced itself from the endless killings that has forced the federal government to threaten to declare state of emergency in Anambra State where the state guber election is scheduled for next month.
Speaking on Channels Television on Wednesday, Mr Umahi said elites from the geo-political zone have rejected the plan to secede from Nigeria.
He said should the country be dissolved, the Igbo people, like what was obtained during the civil war, stand to lose more unlike other secessionist agitators in the South-West region.
“Every elite in the South-East is not desirous of Biafra,” the governor claimed. “We don’t want Biafra. We want to be treated equally like other regions in Nigeria. So this idea of Biafra is madness – we have said we don’t want Biafra.
“We have invested a lot and we can’t leave our investments and walk away. Those people (agitating in other regions) are at an advantage because we have invested heavily in their areas and the tendency is that if this happens, we are going to leave our investments and walk away. We did that during the civil war and we do not intend to do that again,” he added.
The chairman of the South-East Governors Forum also said intelligence report at their disposal suggests that the heightened killings in Anambra are politically motivated while regretting the absence of the state governor, Willie Obiano, who would have verified the report at the forum’s emergency meeting on Tuesday.
He also said IPOB positioned itself to be blamed for the increasing killings by saying the guber elections should not hold, despite the group denying ever issuing such directive.
“We (South-East governors) spoke about the election in Anambra State yesterday but, unfortunately, our brother, the governor of Anambra State, was not able to attend. We would have been able to evaluate the stories we are hearing that the killings in Anambra State are politically motivated,” Umahi said.
“But on the other hand, you look at what IPOB is saying that there should not be election in Anambra State. If we don’t have elections and there is constitutional crisis, the National Assembly and Mr. President are going to sort out that one.
“There are unconfirmed reports that some political parties that have seen they are not going to win are importing people to do the killings. These were some of the reports we got yesterday (October 5). Unconfirmed reports.
“But IPOB is positioning themselves as the killing agents because they are the ones saying there will be no elections; they are the ones saying if you come out we kill you. So even if they are not the ones killing, they have taken responsibility for the killings,” the governor added.