Ohanaeze vs IPOB: Endless father, son faceoff

In this report, looks at the raging controversies between the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the pan Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

The recent attack on the former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in Nuremberg Germany, by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), has triggered a renewed wave of brickbat between the proscribed organisation and the pan Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

With the Ekweremadu treatment, it now appears that the fear of IPOB by Igbo political leaders is the beginning of wisdom. The former Deputy Senate President was in Germany to honour invitation by organisers of Igbo cultural festival in that country, but the visit turned sour, as he was assaulted by IPOB members who had earlier been directed by their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, to deal with Ekweremadu and the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who was also supposed to grace the occasion but eventually couldn’t make it due to visa challenges.

The group admitted responsibility for the attack on Ekweremadu and gave its reasons. The spokesperson for IPOB, Emma Powerful, said the former Deputy Senate President was “disgraced by the IPOB Nuremberg Family as an Operation Python Dance Instigator”. The spokesperson of IPOB also accused Ekweremadu of being a traitor, who worked clandestinely for the government against the group and got IPOB proscribed, alongside the South East governors got IPOB proscribed.

Not done with the assault on Ekweremadu, with all the wide condemnation the attack attracted, the IPOB leader, again directed members of his group in over 100 countries across the world to handout a similar treatment to other Igbo leaders. He specifically listed those that should receive a similar treatment to; governors Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Willie Obiano (Anambra), David Umahi (Ebonyi) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu. The group also listed other Igbo leaders such as Nwodo, who was accused of supporting the Operation Python Dance 2 of 2017, in the South East.

IPOB’s grouse

The IPOB mouthpiece had said: the Nuremberg IPOB family in Germany, in keeping with the long-standing directive from our leader to hound all instigators of the Operation Python Dance, is glad to report that Ekweremadu was confronted and duly hounded out of a so-called New Yam Festival event in Germany.

“Despite repeated warnings to the organisers of this jamboree that Enugu, Ebonyi and other parts of ‘Biafra-land’ is under siege by the Fulani caliphate and their collaborators within, they went ahead to invite a known traitor, co-conspirator and one of those who worked with Igbo governors to proscribe and tag IPOB a terror organisation while they never raised any voice against the murderous Fulani herdsmen”.

The alerted that “this is to serve as a warning to Nwodo, Umahi, Ikpeazu, Obiano and others that any day we find them in a public event abroad, they will be humiliated. IPOB is strategically located in over 100 countries around the world. Anywhere we find them, they will be dealt with.”

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Worried by the threat by IPOB to humiliate him and other Igbo leaders abroad, Chief Nwodo wrote an open letter to Ndigbo where he dismissed all the allegations against him and other Igbo leaders by Kanu. Nwodo said he saw a video clip apparently made by Kanu in Germany before his group assaulted former Deputy Senate President, where he accused him and other Igbo leaders of supporting the military invasion of the IPOB leader’s home at Umuahia, as well as the proscription and labelling of the group as a “terrorist organisation” by the Federal Government.

Ohanaeze’s defence

The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo recounted numerous interventions he made alongside other Igbo leaders, including the condemnation of the invasion of Kanu’s home and tackling of the Federal Government and Attorney General of the Federation on the proscription of IPOB. Nwodo wrote: “Ahead of a visit, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu and I were scheduled to go to Germany for a meeting of Ndigbo, Nnamdi peddled unprintable lies about me and rebuked Igbos in Germany for inviting me and threatened that I will not leave Germany alive. I would have ignored this speech as I have ignored many of his previous abuses and deliberate falsehood against me.

“I had ignored them in the past not only because the distortions and falsehood were indirectly countered by the robust publicity of my activities and utterances which negated his representations but also because I thought it was indecent for a father and his son to be engaged in public disputations, especially when such disputations in our present circumstances would weaken our solidarity and portray us as a divided and unserious lot. “It has however become necessary now to rebut his persistent falsehood because, not to do so will make them credible among those who may not have heard my side of the story.

“The IPOB leader first of all accuses me of being an accomplice to the invasion of his homestead in Umuahia by the Nigerian Army in Operation Python Dance. “He holds me and our South-East governors and legislators responsible for the marginalisation of the South-East. He accuses me of being against the realisation of Biafra and a saboteur to the Igbo cause.

“First of all, I am neither the Commanderin Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces nor a member of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Secondly, I never participated in any meeting where Operation Python Dance was ever recommended or ordered.

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Truth is that when the second Operation Python Dance was ordered, I wrote against it and advised against it in the media. I saw no need for it. “I condemned the mayhem that followed it. I wrote to the GOC 82 Division N.A on the violation of the UN rules of engagement by his troops.

I listened to the brief of the Abia State Government on the clashes between the Nigeria Police and Nnamdi Kanu on the establishment of the Biafra Security Service without legislative approval or knowledge of the Nigeria Police. I called for caution. “I confronted the Attorney General of the Federation on his move to obtain an interlocutory order to enable him to classify IPOB as a terrorist organisation. When the Federal Government finally proscribed IPOB, I criticized it.” Nwodo, also stated that he wrote to the UN Secretary General, telling the world body that; “it is a verifiable fact that, other than recourse to the use of intemperate language, IPOB and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) campaigns had been generally peaceful, nonviolent and in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”

Nwodo’s magnanimity

The Ohanaeze boss however went memory lane narrating how he forgave members of IPOB when those allegedly working for the group attacked his home and caused damages. Noting that he also took the IPOB matter to the British Institute on International Affairs in Chatham House London, Nwodo explained that notwithstanding abundant evidence of his championing IPOB cause, the proscribed group ordered an invasion of his telephone with numerous insulting calls and threats to life.

“My home in Ukehe was bombed. Police investigations of these incidences linked some of them to IPOB members. Their lawyers approached me and I thought that a father taking his son to court and subsequently to jail would be un-Igbo. Notwithstanding their confessional statements, I withdrew my complaint against them and they pledged to be of good behaviour.”

While noting that a father would always forgive an errant child, Nwodo said that Kanu does not understand nor appreciate how the system worked in Nigeria, and maintained that no amount of insulting, provocative and incendiary speeches couldget Ndigbo Biafra or restructuring.

He said that he was instrumental to the formation of Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum, a strong pressure group, stressing that it champions restructuring of Nigeria which will give the South-East sovereign independence in the control of her national resources and political control of her government structures. “Short of a war you can’t force Nigeria to grant us Biafra. I believe that working together we can achieve a referendum/constitutional amendment or a plebiscite,” he said.

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Igbo governors deny IPOB’s allegation

Also in similar fashion, the South-East governors denied involvement in the Python Dance 2. The governors under the platform of the South-East Governor’s Forum just few days ago, categorically stated that they had no hands in the military operation and eventual proscription of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the Federal Government. Chairman of the forum and the governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, in a communique at the end of the governor’s forum’s meeting, explained that the expanded meeting in Enugu deliberated extensively on the issue before coming out with the communique. “South-East governors never invited the army nor were South East governors informed of any of their operations on Python Dance until the operations were already started in the states. But reacting to the denial by the governors, Kanu said such denial was “too little, too late”.

In a statement, the IPOB leader alleged that when the northern leaders were instigating them (governors) to fight and kill IPOB members, they were busy negotiating with their fellow Fulani bandits. “If you knew nothing about Operation Python Dance 2, why did you proscribe IPOB in its wake? The same northern leaders instigating you to fight peaceful IPOB is busy negotiating with & financing their fellow Fulani bandits. Who is fooling who? Too little, too late.”

As the war of words continue, Chief Emeka Attamah, who is the Special Adviser on Media to President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has stated that his boss has no plans to scale down his foreign engagements as a result of the attack on Ike Ekweremadu or further threat to attack him and other Igbo leaders by IPOB. Reacting to the development in a chat with our correspondent, Attamah said that Nwodo was not at war with IPOB and therefore would not scale down his foreign engagements on account of such threat.

“The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Nnia Nwodo, is not at war or has no conflict with IPOB. They are his children and he has always been protective of their interests as a father. He therefore has no reason to scale down his foreign trips,” Attamah said.

However, many well-meaning Igbo sons and daughters and other Nigerians, including Senate Minority Leader, Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe, have called on Kanu and his group to have a rethink, warning that should they continue to act in the same manner as they did against Ekweremadu, they would be unwittingly helping the Federal Government to justify the proscription of the group and its labelling as a terrorist group.

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