Being part of the official announcement declaring a Biafra Provisional Government in Exile and held at the United States National Press Club in Washington DC, United States of America on August 28, 2007.
There comes a time in the life of a people when their physical survival; their dignity, fundamental human rights, and indeed the very essence of their being endowed on them by their creator and guaranteed under natural and international laws supersede all temporary comfort, and demand unreserved and unmitigated action in defense of these God-given rights. For the peoples of Biafra, that time is now.
Whereas the peoples and Nation of Biafra and their land and property find themselves under physical, economic, political, sociologic and psychological subjugation by the State of Nigeria since 1967; a “state of occupation” of Biafra by Nigeria has existed and continues to exist. Unwilling to continue to live under such stifling servitude while suffering such indignities as are inappropriate for human beings; determined to exercise the natural and legal rights to Freedom and Liberty,
We the peoples of the Federation of Biafra have resolved to actualize, renew, reaffirm and continue with the Declaration of Biafra Independence of May 30 1967, with all the implications thereof.
In reaffirming the independence of Biafra, the Peoples and Nation of Biafra make neither war, nor peace with the State or peoples of Nigeria. Rather we exercise a Natural right, a political right and a right supported by the United Nations Organization Charter and international laws – the right of Self-Determination. The peoples of Biafra are taking this action in certain realization that only the effective exercise of Self- Determination by the peoples and Nation of Biafra will end the state of occupation, subjugation, and persecution by Nigeria.
In furtherance of this exercise the peoples and Nation of Biafra have issued a mandate for the creation and formation of a Biafra Provisional Government in Exile. Such a government shall function as the bona fide government of Biafra to:
· Secure the Freedom and Liberty of Biafra and its peoples;
· Represent the Sovereignty and Interests of Biafra throughout the world;
· Engage in international relationships and diplomacy with Governments, States, Nations and Organizations;
· Organize for the security of the peoples, properties and land of Biafrans;
· Obtain diplomatic recognition for the Sovereign State of Biafra;
· Organize the negotiation of trade and other economic activities on behalf of the peoples of Biafra.
The peoples and Nation of Biafra appeal to all Governments, Peoples, States, Nations, Organizations and Individuals world wide to support the long persecuted peoples of Biafra in their struggle for Freedom, Liberty and Self-Determination.
This exercise of self-determination is a direct expression of the will of the people of Biafra. It is an ongoing process that began in 1966 after a genocidal pogrom and ethnic cleansing exercise directed against all the peoples of then Eastern Nigerian, culminating in the declaration of the sovereign state of Biafra in 1967 when Biafra was forced to separate from Nigeria. Nigeria immediately declared war on Biafra, blockaded her by land, sea and air and starved more than one million children to death.
When, following the end of the war in 1970, Nigeria resorted back to the same mistreatment of Biafrans that led to the declaration of Biafra in the first place, the will of the people of Biafra to leave Nigeria for good only hardened. Since 1970, Biafra has tried acquiescence to accommodate and be accommodated by Nigeria in the illusory thinking that this would bring reprieve from Nigeria’s harsh treatment, and persecution, and maintain peace. However, Nigeria remained relentless in its vindictive policies against the people of Biafra, and in its total suppression and denial of the basic human rights of Biafrans. This is in spite of the fact that Biafrans tried harder than any other groups to integrate themselves into the Nigerian citizenry and polity, but all to no avail.
In response to this ongoing dehumanization and rejection of Biafrans by Nigeria, MASSOB (the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra), a non-violent movement, was formed, in 1999 with an agenda consistent with the name. The distinguishing quality of MASSOB is its strict adherence to non-violence, in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. MASSOB has sought dialogue with the Nigerian government, but has instead been “rewarded” with unjustified detention and jailing without charge, extrajudicial murder of its membership, constant harassment, and destruction of membership and organizational property by Nigerian Army, Paramilitary Police and security agents.
Several other liberation movements have since sprang up. Chief Ralph Uwazurike, an attorney and the leader of MASSOB, and several high-ranking MASSOB officials, as well as many rank-and-file MASSOB members, and members of other Liberation Movements are currently being held in various Nigerian jails. MASSOB and its leadership as well as these other liberation movements enjoy enormous support of the masses of the people of Biafra.
Self-determination for the People of Biafra:
Biafra, a nation of some 40 million people, has for almost 40 years suffered incessant exploitation, humiliation, dehumanization, oppression and genocide at the hands of Nigeria in a calculated and deliberate agenda to permanently and perpetually subjugate the people and obliterate their culture.
Self-determination in any form is a right recognized by and accepted in International law and many other International and regional instruments
Biafra has a population of over 40 million people, and
1. a common historical tradition dating to times prior to European colonization,
2. a racial and ethnic identity well distinguishable from the rest of Nigeria,
3. cultural homogeneity which distinguishes its people apart from the rest of Nigeria,
4. linguistic unity, with a major language, minor languages, and a lingua franca,
5. religious affinity, the dominant religion being Christianity,
6. ideological affinity,
7. distinct, contiguous territoriality, and
8. a common sociopolitical and economic life.
In addition, the population as whole naturally sees and considers itself as a people bound by common ancestry, sociopolitical ties and destiny; hence, the people exhibit the will and consciousness of being a people.
The primary reason driving the self-determination form and effort of the people of Biafra is the imperative to provide the traditional existential human needs of freedom, liberty, survival and prosperity of our people. Yet, the reason for Self Determination for Biafra goes well beyond human needs; the aforementioned structure of Nigeria, put together by its colonial master and inherited as such, is a forced amalgamation of peoples and nations who were never suited, and are still not suited to be lumped together as one nation in the first place. The architect of the amalgamation, the British Lord Lugard, stated 100 years ago, that such a “union” would never work—that “Easterners [Biafrans] and Northerners were like oil and water and would never mix.” He was right then. He is still right at this time. The problem is that Nigeria is pretending to make it work, using all manner of force and intimidation, buoyed by the support of other self-interested parties who benefit from the ongoing resultant dysfunctional and pathologic status of the state of Nigeria.
Security of Person:
Biafrans are killed on a daily basis all over Nigeria, including occupied Biafra. Most
times, it is extrajudicial killing by the Nigerian Army, Paramilitary Police, Nigeria Armed Security Agencies, and Nigeria’s Secret Death Squads. Even when such is admitted by the State of Nigeria’s killing machinery, there is no inquest, no accountability, no explanation, no apologies, no proper trials, no convictions, no remorse, no compensation. Lately, MASSOB members have borne the brunt of these unconscionable acts. In one such operation in Onitsha in April 2006, more than 700 innocent Biafran men and women were murdered, and hundreds of innocent women and girls were gang raped by Nigerian soldiers.
Christian Biafrans are also targeted and killed en masse, in carefully orchestrated “riots” in Fundamentalist Islamic Northern Nigeria, with a frightening cycle and staggering toll. In more than 25 such carefully organized attacks it is estimated that more than one hundred thousand (100,000) people have been killed. For each death of a Biafran resulting from the above, at least ten times have been injured, maimed, displaced and or unaccounted for.
Although this atrocious activity qualifies as Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing, the international community has yet to react.
Security of Property:
There is no respect for the property or property-rights of the Biafran. The Nigerian Police routinely destroys the homes and property of Biafrans especially those identified as working for self-determination. The home of the leader of MASSOB has been burned down and ransacked several times. In Onitsha the Nigeria Army used helicopter gun ships to bomb private homes that innocent Biafran civilians labored so hard to build.
The Lagos State government razed business stalls and markets built and maintained by Biafrans living in that State, without reason, without compensation, and threatened to burn down more such structures.
In Fundamentalist Islamic Northern Nigeria, during the aforementioned rampages, Northern civilians and security agents would selectively target, loot, burn and destroy the business and personal property of Biafrans residing in Northern Nigeria, as well as Christian Churches where Biafrans worship. More than three hundred Churches have been burned in Northern Nigerian in the past ten years alone. A foreigner living in Northern Nigeria once remarked: “The killing of the Igbo (Biafrans) has become an industry in Northern Nigeria.” Over one million Biafrans have been forced to flee from Northern Nigeria and relocate to Biafra and other parts of Africa. It is obvious that Biafrans are not welcome in a country in which they are supposed to be citizens.
Genocide and Ethnic cleansing
The first massive state-organized and state-directed Pogrom, Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing directed against Biafrans (the people of Eastern Nigerian at that time) by Nigeria occurred in 1966, in Northern Nigeria especially, but also in Western Nigeria. The massacre of Biafrans has continued to date. More than 100,000 Biafrans have been killed by Nigerians since 1980. Not only has the State of Nigeria participated directly in this crime against humanity, it has also maintained an enabling environment which facilitates and encourages Nigerians and State governments to kill and maim Biafrans at will, destroy the property of Biafrans and uproot Biafrans wherever they may be found in Nigeria. By making no efforts at all to investigate and bring to justice individual and corporate offenders in these crimes, the State of Nigeria has proved that it places no value on the life and property of Biafrans living in Nigeria; worse still, the State of Nigeria has proven that it has a vested interest in the destruction of Biafrans.
The government of Nigeria has banned or blocked or stifled legitimate economic activities in which there is a preponderance of Biafran owners. Government orchestrated stifling of economic activity in Biafra has resulted in very high incidence of unemployment among the youths and other people of working age.
One of the worst acts of economic injustice ever seen is the blatant refusal of the government of Nigeria to allow the peoples of Biafra access to the finances accruing from the sale of Petroleum and Natural Gas derived from their private ancestral land. The leadership of the Nigerian State has used the money derived from Biafra to develop Abuja, Lagos and other parts of Northern and Western Nigeria and to set up billion dollar personal fortunes in banks in Europe, America and the other parts of the world while leaving the people of Biafra (Eastern Region) from where the Oil money is derived to live in poverty, penury, and squalor and die slow miserable deaths. Authoritative reports of $4 billion stolen between December 2004 and April 2007; $3 billion stolen by the NNPC and the Nigerian President; $2 billion dollars disappearing between the United Kingdom and Bermuda are common news items in Nigeria. A highly placed Nigerian government official stated that the rulers of Nigeria have stolen over $400 billion dollars since 1970.
The most obvious and salient example of environmental terrorism directed against the
people of Biafra by the State of Nigeria relates to oil exploration in the Niger Delta region of Biafra. With total disregard for the environment and for the people who live in the area, the State of Nigeria has failed to make even minimal effort to combat what otherwise would have been manageable ecological fallout from oil exploration. Streams and rivers have been badly polluted; drinking water and marine life have been devastated. Gas flaring has caused acid rain, birth defects and even mental illnesses in the inhabitants of the Niger Delta. The Nigerian government does not care and does not want to know. All it wants is to steal the billions of dollars derived from the oil and walk away leaving the people to their misery.
Political Security – Democracy
For Biafrans the right to express their collective and individual political will using the ballot system has traditionally been just as primal as the basic individual right of being. Biafrans put utmost premium in their ability to elect their own leaders, to hold them accountable and to remove them if they fail to perform the functions for which they were elected. Since the amalgamation of the peoples of Biafra with Nigeria this very important aspect of Biafran culture has been truncated time and time again. Biafrans have a long history of democracy dating thousands of years; the peoples of Western Nigeria have a long history of monarchy dating thousands of years and the peoples of Northern Nigeria have a long history of feudalism dating thousands of years. It has been impossible to melt these three distinct cultures into one. The April 2007 elections in Nigeria adjudged by national and international election monitors to be the worst election in the history of the world informs unbiased observers of the terrible tyranny that Biafrans have been forced to bear in their association with Nigeria. The 2003 elections in Nigeria were judged by national and international election monitors to be equally fraudulent with Biafrans always being the most victimized.
Freedom of Religion:
The population of Biafra is about 95% Christian. However, the Muslim Northern domination of power affords them the means and opportunity to run Nigeria as primarily a Muslim nation. Nigeria was registered as a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), in the 1980’s, without consulting with,
and without the consent of the Christians of Nigeria. Recently, the Nigerian state allowed Fundamentalist Islamic Sharia law to be introduced in thirteen of the nineteen states in Northern Nigeria and three of the six stated in Western Nigeria. The Fundamental Islamic Sharia law is now applied equally to both Muslims and Christians, despite strong protests from Christian Biafrans. Since Biafrans (who are non-Muslim) have the biggest non-Muslim presence in Northern Nigeria, it does not take much to discern who as a group would be found without rights and treated as such in Northern Nigeria. The State of Nigeria looks the other way while government institutions such as the police and the courts are used to impose Fundamentalist Islamic Sharia law on Christian Biafrans living in Northern and Western Nigeria. Several Moslem Nigerian leaders from Northern and Western Nigeria have declared openly that they will Islamize Christian Biafrans by force. Christian Biafran children have been abducted and forcibly converted to Islam or married off against their will to Islamic fundamentalists. The people of Biafra thus feel trapped by the State of Nigeria, encaged on purpose and left helpless, readied for easy victimization and forced Islamization by determined Islamic Fundamentalists bent on swallowing up everything in their path.
The primary function of government is the protection of its citizens and their property. Whenever a government which is meant to protect the people turns around and persecutes and destroys a people and their culture; the people it was meant to protect; the people reserve the right to take steps to establish a different political and administrative arrangement that will guarantee the safety and security of their lives and property. This is the case for Biafra.
Thank you all for coming and may God bless the People and Nation of Biafra.