Comrade Chukwudi Anachuna is the national president, Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), a youth organization that comprises Igbo youth groups globally. OYC is the umbrella body of these groups, which aims at pushing the causes of Igbo youths to fulfillment. our reporter met with him in Asaba,Anioma Province Biafra land, where he spoke about the current pro-Biafra protests.
He also offers some advice to the Federal Government on addressing what he describes as injustice against Igbos. He also advises the Army against undue confrontation of the peaceful protester:
Recently, there have been agitations especially in the South East and South South involving member of pro-Biafra groups who were reacting to the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu and other pro-Biafra activists. What are your views about these disturbances?
Regarding those demonstrations, they are disturbances. These are people who are agitated trying to voice their opinions concerning the irregularities that have been in the Nigerian system whereby Igbos have become subjected to all kinds of humiliation, intimidation and suppression. This is why they are demonstrating. We should not call it disturbances, they are protests. If you look at the records, in all the demonstrations, they have conducted themselves within the confines of the law. They have been making their issues known, they have not been destroying anything, government property or private. They have not killed anyone. If you check, it is the protesters that the military and police have been confronting without provocation. We have been watching the situation, and will react accordingly in due course.
People have the right to agitate if they feel oppressed, or if they
feel that they have not been treated properly. If you talk about
Nnamdi Kanu, Radio Biafra, IPOB, and then other groups, then Uwazurike
of MASSOB, not forgetting Barrister Benjamin Onwuka of the Biafra
Zionist Movement and his group. These are people who have been venting
their concerns about the injustice of the Nigerian government against
the Igbo. Benjamin Onwuka has been under detention for close to two
years now. These are people who have not been found guilty of any
offence. All we hear is that they have been accused of different
things, and by right, they have to be granted bail. Benjamin Onwuka
and the Biafra Zionist Movement should be granted bail immediately.
Nnamdi Kanu should be granted bail immediately. As we are saying this,
were also making it clear that these bails should be unconditional.
Their issues should also be addressed properly, because if those
issues are not adequately addressed, and quickly, the issues of these
Biafra protests will continue to arise and escalate. So the government
needs to come out and take action. Let them be released immediately,
because they have been detained unjustly.
They have to be released quickly and go into proper negotiations, let
us all k now why these people are agitating. Let them address these
issues. If someone says he doesn’t want to stay with a particular
group, you have to know why he doesn’t want to stay again. If you feel
that he should continue, you have to make certain sacrifices. You have
to ask and discuss, ‘my brother, my sister, how do we do it so we can
continue to remain as one?’ you cannot force someone against his
desire to continue to live with you.
The army have twice threatened that if the agitators do not stop, they might take certain grave actions against them. We are also aware that these protesters have so far continued to go unarmed, and we have also heard that they said that if Nnamdi Kanu is not released, they would march to Lagos and Abuja. What do you say to the army on their threats?
The army is condemning these protests, but I think it’s wrong. You
cannot condemn a peaceful protest that is done within the confines of
law. They are not to intimidate protesters who have been doing what
they feel is right. They have been going around making their issues
known, and the army is threatening them. It is wrong. I read it a
couple of days back, that they are threatening to confront them, that
they will even attack them. It is very wrong, and I condemn it in its
entirety, because the army have so many places where Nigerians are
being terrorized and threatened. Lives and property are being wasted,
and you are talking about protesters that have not done anything
wrong. They have not been killing anyone, they have not been doing
anything wrong. Why should the army make such threats, of violence, of
intimidation? You cannot attack someone without provocation? Why don t
you use your powers and arsenal to visit places that are prone to
violence-Boko Haram, militants, instead, you want to vent your energy
on unarmed, harmless people.
How can you attack people marching about the cities singing songs? How
can you? It’s absurd for the army to say that.
Be it as it may, they have a right to make their statements, but what
we are telling them is that they should not dare to attack protesters,
because that will cause anarchy, war and a breakdown of law and order
in the system. The most they can do is monitor the protests. They
should give them support and encouragement, because what they are
doing is not wrong, and the army knows that.
What is OYC doing to ensure that the government comes to terms with
the demands of pro-Biafrans?
Igbo youths have been conscentizing our people to be aware of the
happenings in our society. We have been in touch with certain persons
in government, and we are still making more efforts concerning our
position, and how it affects our people, even when their demands are
not exactly same as ours. They are our people. We have also been
making it clear to government, the issue of the development of the
Igbo land. Igbo land have suffered a lot. We are talking about the
unity of this country. If we are to tell the truth, Igbos have
contributed the most, and have sacrificed the most to ensure that
Nigeria remains one. If you talk about violence against us, Igbos are
very widely scattered across the country. In most cases, there are
attacks on our investments in these places where we live, there are
attacks on our brothers and sisters who usually pay with their lives.
There is the issue of the insurgency of Boko Haram, the displacement
of North Easterners, and their rehabilitation. Nobody ever talks about
the Igbos who were killed, or displaced, or have their investments
destroyed. If you talk about those displaced, Igbos have more than 50
percent if those who have been displaced.
But now we are talking about rehabilitation, and Igbos have been
craftily excluded. Let’s talk of development, and you come to the
death traps called roads across the Igbo land. But we have been
managing all these quietly. Now, we come to say that this treatment
against us is wrong, and you say we should keep quiet? In the whole of
the South East and South South where Igbos live, there is no single
international airport. Look at the one in Enugu, it’s not even up to
acceptable standards. Go to River Niger where they claim they are
dredging. Nothing is really happening there, and the only work they
are doing is only on paper. So what are we talking about? We really
need to change our orientation and understanding of these things
because the youths have not been treated properly.
But we are making consultations on how to handle it properly. They
should look into our matters and know that the issues raised need to
be addressed, and addressed quickly and appropriately.
What is your message to Federal Government on the matter?
We have observed with keen interest the activities of the IPOB and
other pro-Biafra group agitators for weeks. This agitation and protest
for an unconditional release of Nnamdi Kanu, Benjamin Onwuka and
others arrested, and a proper referendum on the self determination of
Ndigbo is gaining more momentum across board. After monitoring the
protest activities for the past one week, we are amazed at the level
of involvement and maturity Ndigbo is conducting themselves at the
moment. The protesters have been very peaceful and organized not
minding various challenges and suppression, this have made most Igbos
who are not in support of the protest to be interested in the outcome
of the agitation. Its worthy of note that the protesters have
continued to protest within the context of the laws of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria and as such have proved that Ndigbo can be well
organized and united.
We demand that the Nigerian Army rephrase their threats, instead of
attacking Igbos that have been protesting within the confines of the
We are of the opinion that this issue has gotten to a position where
more prominent Igbo leaders should be very proactive and vocal at this
point in order to contend this protest and to avoid further bloodshed.
President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency look into the
issues, not with dictatorship approach but a democratic and diplomatic
approach, to avoid further loss of lives and economic processes as
well as not running into greater crisis.