Friday, 29 April 2016

FG And IPOB In War Of Words


Nigeria’s government and pro-Biafra activists are increasingly trading accusations of deadly violence, threatening to aggravate a tense stand-off prompted by the detention of the group’s leader. Earlier this month, Nigerian intelligence accused the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement of abducting and killing five ethnic Fulani people and burying them shallow graves. 

The Department of State Services (DSS) claimed the murders were proof of the group’s “true divisive colour and objectives”, as it sought to “ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust”. The escalating rhetoric has fanned animosity between the Predominantly-Christian Igbo people of the southeast and the Fulani that dates back decades. Igbos have long accused ethnic Fulani political leaders in federal government posts of marginalising them by denying them senior positions and funding for infrastructure and development. Many in the region see it as a “punishment” for declaring independence in May 1967, which sparked a brutal civil war that lasted until 1970. The significance of the DSS accusation is not lost on Nigerians because of violence before secession against Igbos living in the mainly Muslim north, where Hausa-speaking Fulani are dominant. Igbo resentment towards the federal government has not abated since the end of the conflict but is growing because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tough response to IPOB. Feelings of alienation have been exacerbated at a desperate time when Nigeria is experiencing its slowest growth in more than a decade, inflation is at a four-year high, and chronic fuel shortages. Now, it is feared alleged Fulani attacks in the southeast — common in the religiously-mixed central states — are stoking ethnic grievances and drawing people to the separatist cause.
“I can assure you more people are coming to Indigenous People of Biafra,” said Prince Emmanuel Kanu, whose brother Nnamdi is the group’s leader and is facing treason charges for “propagating a secessionist agenda”. “IPOB is conducting serious meetings all over Biafraland to find a solution,” he told AFP. “For how long to you want to continue killing us and for how long do you want us to remain quiet?”