SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: The Fight For The Soul of Biafra

…Why Asari-Dokubo Hijacked Cause From Kanu
…It’s A Long-Drawn Struggle – Insiders
…He’s A Traitor, Bribed – IPOB Lawyer
…We Don’t Trust Nnamdi Kanu, Can’t Work With Him – OPC Faction

By THEWILL CORRESPONDENTS

BEVERLY HILLS, March 29, (THEWILL) – Fresh insights have emerged on the reasons behind the recent move by the Leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), Mujahid Asari-Dokubo, to dislodge the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, from the forefront of the struggle for the actualisation of Biafra as a country out of Nigeria.

THEWILL investigations have revealed that the former Niger Delta militant leader might just be acting out a script to hijack the Biafran cause from Kanu, who apparently is a fugitive after jumping bail in 2019 in his treasonable felony trial instituted against him by the federal government at the federal high court in Abuja.

Long-Drawn Supremacy Battle

Multiple sources close to the development told THEWILL that Asari’s recent declaration was the culmination of the internal crisis rocking IPOB and the supremacy battle between the two leaders, which actually manifested in the recent sack of the IPOB Executive leadership in the United Kingdom by Kanu. THEWILL reliably gathered that most of Asari’s lieutenants in the new movement were recently reprimanded and disciplined by the leadership of IPOB under Kanu after they were found to have allegedly compromised their positions within the organisation. Instead of putting up a fight within their ranks, they allegedly teamed up with Asari to declare the new de facto Customary Government of Biafra.

The Declaration

Asari Dokubo
Asari Dokubo

Asari, a fortnight ago, had declared himself the de facto Head of a new separatist movement he called the Customary Government of Biafra, in a statement by the Head of Information and Communication of the new movement, Uche Mefor, an erstwhile ally of Kanu.

Asari, according to the statement, said: “Nobody can stop us. Nobody can blockade us as they did in the first war,” adding, “We’re not going to fight any war with anybody; we’re walking to freedom. We will not shoot any gun with them, they will prepare their weapon but they will have nobody to kill with their weapon.

“We as people have resolved that as Biafra, it’s time for us to take our destiny in our hands and bring freedom to ourselves and our children and the generation of Biafrans yet unborn.

“I want to call on our brother, George Onyibe, to come on board to join as the secretary of the de facto customary government of the State of Biafra. He will take care of the administrative, day-to-day administration of the Biafra State. I also call on our brother, Emeka Esiri, to take care of the legal needs of this nascent government.

“My brothers and sisters, the four of us will kick-start the process, others will come on board. We want volunteers who are committed; we want volunteers because there is nothing anymore. We are the people who have volunteered to salvage ourselves and the rest of us.

‌“I also call on Biafrans in the various provinces of the Biafra nations in Aba, Abakiliki, Anang, Awka, Calabar, Degema, Eket, Nsuka, Ogoja, Oji River, Okigwe, Onitsha, Opobo, Orlu, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Umuahia, Uyo and Yenagoa.

“We are going to proceed to set up provincial structures of government starting with provincial assemblies and provincial governance and administrators. Let nobody be mistaking that a Biafra will be worse than Nigeria. There is nothing that will be worse than what we are facing today in Nigeria.”

IPOB Crisis

A die-hard Biafran sympathizer and supporter, who craved anonymity because of the state crackdown of supporters and members of the IPOB, sees the ongoing development as part of a larger script to hijack IPOB.

“You know the primary problem of the Igboman is that every one is always trying to get to the top. As at today, persons from 20-50 years old see Nnamdi Kanu as a leader. So there is this conspiracy to bring him down. If it was another ethnic group, they will support him. Imagine how their people will rally round Tinubu or President Buhari, once it is a matter of leadership. There is a saying in Igboland that if a hawk is threatening the lives of some chickens, you first drive away the hawk before looking for the chicken.

“The allegations that are being made against him (Kanu) may be true, anyway, because he is not organized and lacks everything near legality in terms of

organization. But the timing of the crisis is wrong. The Igbo has no centralized leader since Odimegwu Ojukwu died. I will show you how popular among the youth Kanu is. There is a newspaper called Biafra Republic that sells like hot cake here. Yet is has no known address, stories are poorly written with some outright lies, yet anytime it appears, people rush for it,” the IPOB supporter said.

Asari’s Declaration is Suspicious – Ijaw Activist

Alfred Egbegi, an Ijaw activist and publisher of Izon Link, a regional newspaper in the Niger Delta condemned and expressed surprise at Asari’s declaration, especially his purported merger of their Ijaw Nation to the Biafran movement.

“As a supposed leader, he should stop forcing Ijaw Nation to join Biafran. If he claims to be negotiating for the Ijaw Nation, let him come out with his term. If he claims to be negotiating for the Ijaw Nation, let him present the terms, he should stop forcing the Ijaw into Biafran agitation,” Egbegi told THEWILL in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, on Friday, adding, “All is not yet Uhuru in Niger Delta where he comes from, he should stop dissipating his energies on Biafra but concentrate on the Niger Delta struggle for which he had been known for.”

Asari Is Broke – Former INC, GEJ Spokesman

A university lecturer, Dr. Konrad Welson, a former spokesman of the Ijaw National Congress and a former Chief Press Secretary of Goodluck Jonathan when he served as Governor of Bayelsa State, says no one should take Asari serious because he is broke and just seeking relevance.

The Delta State University lecturer said it is typical of Asari to throw a tantrum thinking that by so doing he would be called by President Mohammadu Buhari and offered money. The teacher claimed the agitator used the same tactics to cow and convince former President Jonathan to do his biddings from where he made billions in naira. “He is broke and looking for relevance and he will fail,” he said, stressing that President Muhamadu Buhari is a retired military General who cannot easily get cajoled, intimidated.

“Unfortunately, Asari Dokubo will fail and be disappointed in this current voyage in his life time,” he told THEWILL.

Nnamdi Kanu Remains IPOB Leader – IPOB Legal Officer

Reacting to Asari’s declaration in an exclusive chat with THEWILL, Barrister Ohaeto Uwaeze, Legal Officer of IPOB, dismissed the Niger Delta activist and his group as jokers and detractors in the struggle, saying they were doing what they had allegedly been bribed to do, according to him, to destroy Nnamdi Kanu. The IPOB chieftain also stated the official stand of IPOB on Asari’s declaration.

“It’s a misnomer. Asari Dokubo has made himself a nobody. It’s really unfortunate because he is the leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force and Nnamdi Kanu is the leader of IPOB. So, we have a working cooperation and Asari Dokubo compromised his own stand with the Nigerian Government. He collected bribe, likewise Uwazuirike and they fell out from the struggle.

“What they are trying to do now is to do what the Government has paid them to do – to destroy Nnamdi Kanu. The government of the day has tried to buy him (Kanu) but they couldn’t succeed. They have tried to bribe Nnamdi Kanu but they did not succeed. He has been very diligent in the struggle. The whole Biafrans rely on Nnamdi Kanu because he has never betrayed them for once. Whatever thing he says, he does. They are pleased with him. So, it is really unfortunate that Asari Dokubo, Uche Mefor, Uwazuiruike, Sigmund Uwanya and Emeka Esiri fell out from the struggle, “ Uwaeze told THEWILL.

The Antecedents

Continuing, the lawyer said: “I look at it from antecedents, so I can soon see their end.

“This is not the first time they are having Customary Government. There is the one formed by Uwazuiruike, MASSOB; there is the one formed by Delay Human Rights Initiative, representing the Indigenous People of Biafra, formed by Barrister Emeka Esiri Esq, who is based in London. They brought the Customary Government of Biafra, It didn’t go anywhere. And you have the Biafran Council Government, that also did not go anywhere. So, I look at them as noisemakers in the struggle. They cannot divide IPOB, IPOB has no divisions, it’s a one-family organisation. It’s either you are a member or you are not.”

Mefor’s Impatience

Uwaeze however refuted the claim by some observers of the development that Asari’s declaration might just be one of the fall-outs of Kanu’s recent sack of the Board of IPOB United Kingdom branch, saying it was rather the impatience of Uche Mefor, the Head of Information and Communication of the new Customary Government of Biafra.

“No! The fact is this: Uche Mefor was bribed and was fired because he compromised his position in IPOB and was relieved of his duty. In fact, if I were him, I would have still remained. He’s the one that escalated this as he was not patient, he went ahead to establish a parallel radio station which did not fly. Nobody reckons with him. The person we know is Nnamdi Kanu. These people are distracting elements, just detractors, nobody listens to them. Whatever comes from them is garbage,” Uwaeze said.

Biafran Struggle Is Very Sensitive

He also described Asari as “an inconsequential person who does not have the acumen, all that is required, to lead,” adding “And this is a sensitive issue of Biafran struggle.”

According to Uwaeze, “It is very sensitive and carries a lot of emotions. And we are in Nigeria, you know how callous the Nigerian Government is! Initially, they (Biafrans) were seen carrying flags and non-violent and the soldiers were killing them en-masse. And now, they said they have killed them enough and are now carrying guns. Now, it’s you fire me, I fire you! And the government is saying shoot at sight. It’s very unfortunate. What they are fighting for is what they have a right, given to them by God. The right to self-determination, it’s also in the United Nations Charter and Africa Charter on Human Rights. Even the Constitution of Nigeria provided for the right to existence, right to self-determination because Nigeria adopted the Charter of African Human Rights. They adopted it! So, I have the right to say I don’t want to belong to Nigeria. It is my decision.”

No Comment – Governor Nyesom Wike’s Spokesman

Though the Chief Press Secretary to Nyesom Wike, the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri, would not comment on the issue when THEWILL spoke to him on his mobile phone, Friday evening, directing our correspondent to the State Commissioner for Information, instead, THEWILL recalled that the River State Governor, Nyesom Wike, had described Asari as too irrelevant to deserve his response following his recent declaration of Biafra.

Wike, who spoke on a television programme, monitored by THEWILL, wondered why people were granting undeserved publicity to Asari, insisting that he would not glorify the former warlord with a response.

He, however, said Asari sometimes worked for the Federal Government but, in other times, would attack the same government. The Governor further wondered how Asari, who is an Ijaw man, could volunteer to lead Biafra known to be of the Igbos, saying he was always in the habit of abusing him but he decided not to make him relevant with his response.

According to the governor, “The problem we have in Nigeria is that we try to give publicity to things that do not matter. You know the antecedent of Asari Dokubo. But each time people like Dokubo come out to make statements, we try to publicise it.

“Sometimes, he works for the Federal Government. Sometimes, he attacks the Federal Government. I am one person that Asari Dokubo has always abused. But I won’t respond because I know his modus operandi.

“He has accused us particularly me and my ethnic group that we are Igbos and that we have no oil well. But if you respond to that, you will give him publicity. If he says he is now the chairman of Biafra, let us see the people he has. In fact, there are issues we should not discuss. It is too irrelevant,

I won’t do it. Let’s focus on Nigerian challenges not on frivolities.”

Ijaws Won’t Be Forced Into Unwilling Marriage – Activist

An environmentalist with Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Environment, Comrade Alagoa Moris, posited that though, as a fellow ljaw man, he had told Asari that the path he is pointing for the Ijaw Nation is unacceptable, maintaining that nobody can force Ijaw people into an unwilling marriage like he is trying to do.

Moris said: “With much respect for my fellow Ijaw, Asari, he is one son of Ijaw nation who prints and wears T – shirts having the image of late Isaac Boro and with that, many of us thought that he represents that struggle and what he was. I don’t think Asari Dokubo can convinced any Ijaw brother and sister, that if Isaac Boro were to be alive, he, Asari Dokubo, will venture to do this even though Isaac Boro must have been old.

“This is very obvious. Even Ojukwu who declared Biafra after Isaac Boro had earlier declared Niger Delta Republic; never apologised to the Ijaws after he fled Nigeria on self-exile at the fall of Biafra which Isaac Boro assisted on the side of the Federal troops. Ojukwu, who was pardoned by the Shagari NPN Government didn’t approach the Ijaws on his return from exile and try to mend fences and heal wounds. So, with what our people experienced in the defunct Eastern region, why should Asari ever contemplate such without first of all going in-house to consult Ijaw leaders and people? If he even did, the answer would have been capital No.

“Yet, it would have been better that he consulted and our people would have told him why it wouldn’t be possible, especially as Ijaws cannot be a mere appendage to any ethnic group in Nigeria. We were independently existing like any other free people in this geographical area which the British brought together as Nigeria. We were never a conquered people. Let any tribe or ethnic nationality in Nigeria come out and say they ever went into battle with Ijaws and conquered us before and after the amalgamation of 1914.

“If Ijaws decide to form any nation, if Nigeria disintegrates like the former USSR, then Ijaws will be an equal partner and not taken as an extension of those who are having expansionist agenda.

“If Niger Delta Republic doesn’t materialise, it might be United States of Niger Delta or any other nomenclature that appeals to the groups coming together.

“As for Asari, he is free to express his opinions or views as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; but the view of the majority of Ijaw nation would be the final. Nobody can force Ijaws into an unwilling marriage.

“One question l have, if Gen.Aguiyi Ironsi wasn’t killed in the counter-coup; would there have been anything like Biafra?”

We Don’t Trust Kanu, Can’t Work With Him – OPC

An interesting dimension to the unfolding drama is the hand of fellowship being extended to other separatist movements in the country, especially to those championing the cause for Oodua Republic by Kanu, following the withdrawal of Dokubo and his group from IPOB.

However, the Deputy President to the late Dr. Frederick Fasehun, founder of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Otunba Wasiu Afolabi, a.k.a “Askari” told THEWILL that it might be impossible for his organisation to work with Kanu based on his antecedents, though he affirmed that, “So far, neither Nnamdi Kanu nor Sunday Igboho nor Mujahid Asari-Dokubo has reached out to us.”

According to Afolabi, “Kanu was once arrested but he jumped bail and escaped. I don’t believe that you should be agitating for something for your people and go off to hide somewhere. No. We will remain in the country and match each other toe to toe, “adding, “Dr. Fasehun never canvassed a separatist Yoruba nation.”

The Yoruba leader stated further: “In his lifetime, Dr. Frederick Fasehun never spoke to us about Yoruba independence and anyone who tells you Baba ever said so is a liar. What Baba was fastidious about was about the SNC. He wanted restructuring, devolution of power and resource control. He believed that the current 1999 Constitution held no hope for an equitable, just and progressive Nigeria. He never spoke about an Oodua Republic. Baba founded and organised OPC to defend Yoruba interest principally, and to defend the rights of every person in Yoruba land, no matter the ethnic origin, whether Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Ijaw. But this issue is different. But now, agitators are talking about founding a separatist nation.”

OPC Not Yet Approached By Agitators

“IPOB and others are agitating for dismantling the entity called Nigeria and its constituent parts going away to form their separate nations. So far, those championing the Oodua Republic have not invited this OPC family to be part of what they plan about the Oodua Republic, like Professor Banji Akintoye and the others.

“Someone also called me from America that we and Sunday Igboho should work together on Yoruba independence through Oodua Republic. I asked him who their leader was. He replied that they had no leader. That was a major setback and I let the fellow know that the absence of a known leader would be a setback because the cause needed a rallying point. I recognise that their cause is good and just and they mean well for the Yoruba race. But I never heard from them again after that initial approach.

“There is no denying that the current degeneration of the country’s socio-economic and security situations have fuelled the agitations. Now we must take the agenda seriously. But before you can do that, you must weigh both advantages and disadvantages. This is about the destiny of the nation and the people,” he told THEWILL in Lagos on Thursday.

SNC, Restructuring as the Way Forward

Afolabi stated further: “On that basis, OPC believes that Yoruba will remain in Nigeria on the condition of holding a Sovereign National Conference to produce a truly people’s Constitution in place of the current one handed over to us by the military and which favours only one section of the country without considering the aspirations and welfare of other parts of Nigeria. We need to have a Constitution that will ensure equity and justice for all parts of the country.

“Nigeria needs restructuring that will usher in True Federalism. Once that does happens, Yoruba will be content to remain in one Nigeria. Barring that, we should all choose to go our separate ways. Fasehun formed CENN and used it as a rallying point to bring in Niger Delta, Ijaw, Edo, Arewa, MASSOB and others.”

Struggle Must Be Under the Ambit of the Law – YCE

However, the Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders. Dr. Kunle Olajide, told THEWILL in an exclusive interview that “There is nothing wrong with anybody pursuing what he thinks will solve the problem in as much as it is not unconstitutional.”

According to the Yoruba leader, “You don’t expect us to do the same thing the same way. Everybody has the right to say, this is how I want to go about it. The cautionary note that I am giving and I will continue to give is that whatever we are doing, it must be under the ambit of the law of Nigeria, so that people don’t just use the opportunity to come and mow down our youth.”

THEWILL tried multiple times to get Asari to comment on this report before going to press but his mobile numbers were switched off. The Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, could also not be reached to comment on the allegation that the Federal Government had wooed Asari to its side against Kanu. The Minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Segun Adeyemi, did not respond to our messages before press time.