In March 2021, the British Government released on its official Home Office website, a 56 page report in which it shared its thoughts on the Biafran agitation.
The report talked about IPOB, MASSOB, ESN, Nnamdi Kanu, Buhari and his administration. The report also offered Asylum to IPOB and MASSOB members. Excerpts of the report are below
On IPOB being declared a terrorist group: While MASSOB appears not to be banned, IPOB has been proscribed as a terrorist organisation.
However, both groups have generally acted peacefully in advocating for an independent ‘Biafra’ and been the victims of state violence.
The groups have also used inflammatory rhetoric, including comments in support of violence, and clashed violently with the authorities during demonstrations and protests, resulting in deaths of security force members and damage to property
ESN: In December 2020, IPOB is
reported to have set up the Eastern Security Network (ESN), a militia to counter the rising insecurity in the region. In February 2021, Facebook locked Kanu’s account for violating its rules on harm and hate speech.
The security forces have also alleged that IPOB members have on occasion targeted and killed police officers. Reports of casualties vary, but in October
2020 at least three police officers and six army officers were killed in clashes with IPOB.
It is not clear from the sources consulted whether supporters or members who have been arrested have since been prosecuted or convicted for treason or other offences. Nor do sources provide specific information about the length of or treatment of members or supporters of Biafran groups in detention.
In February 2021 the Nigerian military
launched land and air operations against operatives of the ESN, a militia/vigilante group originally set up to protect the south-eastern region, which IPOB claims marked the beginning of the second Nigeria/Biafra war
MASSOB: MASSOB, since its formation in the late 1990s, has clashed with the security forces. Numerous members have been killed, wounded and arrested –usually during demonstrations.
Over a hundred arrests were made in September 2018, at least 10 in 2019; and, in July 2020, it was reported that
members of MASSOB were arrested following clashes with police. IPOB grew out of MASSOB between 2012 and 2014 and reportedly has a presence outside of Nigeria, including the UK.
There are also reported to be a number of minor Biafran groups but these do not seem to have a significant presence in the country. In recent years, MASSOB has become divided, splitting into several smaller groups and is less active than IPOB.
Both MASSOB and IPOB have largely advocated for peaceful change but on occasions have used rhetoric that may encourage violent resistance.
IPOB in particular, through its online platform, Radio Biafra, and online comments of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, has stoked secessionist aspirations and encouraged resistance to the authorities.
Oyigbo(Obigbo): Further clashes and violence occurred between security forces and IPOB in August 2020 in the city of Enugu when police stormed an IPOB meeting and also in October 2020 during confrontations in Rivers State.
These incidents resulted in the arrests and deaths of IPOB supporters as well security force personnel, although there seem to be contradictory reporting on the exact figures.
In November 2020 there were reports that security forces were carrying out revenge killings following the October attacks in the Rivers State area of Oyigbo, these reports were denied by state Governor Nyesom Wike.
Following an attack by IPOB members in Rivers State in October 2020, the governor offered a reward for information that could lead to the arrest and prosecution of the IPOB state leader Stanley Mgbere.
CPIT could find no further information in the sources consulted that Mr Mgbere had been located and arrested
Nnamdi Kanu: The IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu reportedly resides in the UK. He is the director of London-based Radio Biafra, an online radio station set up to broadcast the demands of secessionists. Programmes are transmitted daily in English and Igbo.
He had been recruited by MASSOB leader Uwazuruike to run
Radio Biafra in London.
The pair fell out and Kanu later re-emerged as IPOB leader. BBC monitoring also stated:‘The leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu says he is ready to face trials and defend Biafrans at the International Criminal Court
(ICC), against “genocidal” attacks by “killer herdsmen and bandits”. Speaking on a live broadcast on Radio Biafra, he says: “Herdsmen will attack us, rape our women, destroy our farms and kill our farmers nobody
will arrest them but when we try to defend ourselves, the government will come after us rolling out the tanks and using their helicopter gunboats.
If defending our ancestral land against conquest by Fulani supporter of APC invaders will take me to The Hague, I am ready to go to The Hague.
Another major clash between the armed forces and the pro-Biafra activists occurred in October 2015 when the IPOB-leader Kanu was arrested on charges of treason and ethnic incitement.
A wave of street protests and arrests followed. Kanu was released on 25 April 2017. However, on 22 September 2017, soldiers attacked the house where Kanu was staying and killed 28 people in the surroundings. The government denied the claim.
To read the full 56 page report visit the link below.