Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu, has told the European Parliament that only referendum will curb lawlessness in Nigeria.
Delivering a message to the parliament, where he was invited to state the rationale for IPOB’s secessionist agitation, Kanu noted that the Nigerian state had never been at peace with itself, stressing that recent events amplified the pending emergency facing the country.
According to a statement made available to the media, the IPOB leader said the country was not only in crisis but also steeped in lawlessness.
He addressed the European Parliament on Monday.
Kanu said the constitution has continued to cause harm to all within the jurisdiction and it is unsustainable. He noted that Nigeria may once have worked for the British as a colonial administration, but it has never worked as an independent state.
“To this extent Nigeria is a failed state. Nigeria is an artificial vehicle which buttresses those with power, or aspirations for power. As there is no legitimacy to the state of Nigeria, there is no rule of law. Law is used as a tool of coercion by the authorities to crush opposition. Others, such as the Fulani herders, simply ignore the law and act with impunity.
“There is a crisis in Nigeria. The Nigerian State has never been at peace with itself and recent events amplify this pending emergency. And, as has been the case since independence from Britain in 1960, Biafrans are the easy target of the lack of a credible Nigerian state. Nigeria governs without the consent of all within its borders. Nigeria claims to be ruled by law, but in effect there is a de facto lawlessness in Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s epidemic of violence flowing from the North is well documented. In 2014 the Global Terrorism Index judged Fulani militants to be the fourth most deadly terror group in the world, behind Boko Haram, ISIS and the Taliban. Lawlessness is always one step ahead of the Government. In response, the Government, when it is convenient for it to do so, attempts to give a veneer of legality to the lawlessness. Recent proposed land reforms across Nigeria do just that.
“The Fulani herders from the North are increasingly encroaching on the settled farmers of the South/South East. This includes Biafra. As Amnesty International has reported, there were more than 2,000 deaths in 2018 linked to this land crisis. Instead of seeking to address the violence, the Government has sought to condone it and legitimise the land grab.
There is an underlying problem in the North which has to do with climate change and encroaching desertification due to overgrazing and deforestation. This has drawn Fulani herdsmen further south and led to violence against Biafran farmers seeking to defend their land and crops. The fertile farming lands of Biafra are very attractive to the Fulani.
“To address this land crisis, the government, the president of which is Fulani, sought to establish the RUGA scheme (an acronym for Rural Grazing Area – or is it, as some suggest, a Fulani word,) whereby Fulani herders could officially move into areas and absorb land as part of a Government co-ordinated programme across Nigeria.
“Is this an attempt to develop settled land practices for the Fulani, or, as is the experience of Biafrans, is the drive behind RUGA an attempt to Fulanise (or Islamise) Biafraland and force out Biafrans? Biafrans, who stand up to the Fulani are killed. Because of the uproar across Nigeria, the RUGA settlement programme has been suspended, but the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) remains in place. This programme advocates ranching. How different is it from RUGA? For Biafrans the effect is the same. They are forced from their land and will be killed if they do not make way for the Fulani,” he said.
Kanu regretted that Biafran pleas for self-determination are ignored by the international community. He questioned why Biafran voices are not heard. According to him, resolving Biafra’s legitimate claim for self-determination will resolve Nigeria’s crisis. “Biafra is a forgotten global crisis. IPOB believes that by resolving Biafra’s right to self-determination, Africa’s peaceful future will be revealed. To that extent, Biafra is Africa’s future. The effects of Nigeria’s permanent state of conflict resonate across the continent.”
The IPOB leader noted that the international law is clear in relation to self-determination. According to him, where there is a credible claim for self-determination, the only way to resolve the issue is by holding a referendum, which complies with international standards. “IPOB is calling for a referendum. It is for that reason the Nigerian authorities have sought to brand IPOB as a terrorist organisation. The EU, the UK and the US have all rejected the labelling of IPOB as a terrorist group. They know that IPOB seeks only to uphold human rights.”