Being a presentation by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to the U.S. State Department in June 2019. The Nigerian presidency recently reacted to this, saying that IPOB was trying to cause a religious war.
The purpose of this submission is to formally bring to the attention of the government of the United States the violent Islamization that is taking hold in Nigeria against Christians and Jews especially of Biafran extraction. As shall be demonstrated, this Islamization is by both state and by non-state actors that enjoyed the patronage and tacit support of the state. It is such that may lead to another genocide that will offend the conscience of nations, including particularly the United States, which possesses the singular capacity to intervene with lasting solutions.
1. Background History
Nigeria is an oil-rich country and a regional power in West Africa. It is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual country with a population of about 180 million people.
There are three major ethnic groups, the Igbo (also known as Ibo), the Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani; and 250 other smaller ethnic groups. The Hausa-Fulani are predominantly Muslims and live in the northern (Sahelian) part of Nigeria; the Yoruba who live in the southwest are split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians. Yoruba Muslims profess a moderate form of Islam, as opposed to the more fundamentalist Sunni practice observed in northern Nigeria and from which the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen Islamic terrorists emanated. There is a small Shia minority amongst the majority Sunni Muslims that are ruling Nigeria.
The Biafrans (the centerpiece of this submission) inhabit the southeastern part of Nigeria with a population of over 70 million. About 50 million of them — the Igbo — speak the Igbo language and are predominantly Christians, but with a rapidly growing Jewish minority. Their land is blessed with human and mineral resources including hydrocarbons. Biafrans are very commercially-inclined, industrious and are given to scholarly and professional pursuits. They had an established democratic institution even before colonization by the British. They are very republican and egalitarian in nature, and coexisted peacefully with their neighbours prior to colonization and their amalgamation with the rest of Nigeria in 1914.
In 1966, soon after the world commemorated the 21st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and made the customary solemn declaration of ‘Never, Never Again’, Nigeria defiled that season of reflection, commiseration and hope. Its military officers, the police, Hausa-Fulani emirs, Muslim clerics and intellectuals, civil servants, journalists, politicians and other public figures planned and executed the Biafran (aka Igbo) genocide – the foundational genocide of post-European conquest of Africa. This is also Africa’s most devastating genocide of the 20th century. A total of 3.1 million Igbo people were murdered between 29 May 1966 and 12 January 1970. And had Biafra not unilaterally declared its independence in order to protect itself, the massacre would have been incalculable.
Most Biafrans, especially the Igbos were slaughtered in their homes, offices, businesses, schools, colleges, hospitals, markets, churches, shrines, farmlands, factories/industrial enterprises, children’s playground, town halls, refugee centres, cars, lorries, and at bus stations, railway stations, airports, etc.
In the end, the genocide was enforced by Nigeria’s simultaneously pursued land, aerial and naval blockade and bombardment of Biafraland, Africa’s highest population density region outside the Nile Delta. In other words, even in their own heartland where they had taken refuge, they were pursued and eventually subdued. The excuse then, as it were, was that Nigeria was prosecuting a war of ‘reunification’. On the contrary, there is quantum evidence that the war was provoked in order to accomplish the genocide that had begun against Biafrans generally and the Igbo particularly. The difference this time was to take it to their homeland where they had fled and taken refuge under the defunct Republic of Biafra.
The following excerpt from recently declassified US Embassy diplomatic dispatches of the era on the pogroms and the war that followed states that:
The North was minded to use the war as a tool to reassert its dominance of national affairs. Mallam Kagu, Damboa, Regional Editor of the Morning Post, told the American consul in Kaduna: “No one should kid himself that this is a fight between the East and the rest of Nigeria. It is a fight between the North and the Ibo.” He added that the rebels would be flushed out of Enugu within six weeks. Lt. Colonel Hassan Katsina went further to say, with the level of enthusiasm among the soldiers, it would be a matter of “only hours before Ojukwu and his men were rounded up”.
The northern section of the Nigerian military was the best equipped in the country. To ensure the region’s continued dominance, the British assigned most of the army and air force resources to the North. It was only the Navy’s they could not transfer. All the elite military schools were there. The headquarters of the infantry and artillery corps were there. Kaduna alone was home to the headquarters of the 1st Division of the Nigerian Army, Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (Army Depot), Air Force Training School and Nigerian Defence Academy.
Maitama Sule, Minister of Mines and Power in 1966, once told the story of how Muhammadu Ribadu, his counterpart in Defence Ministry, went to the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, and the British Commandant of the school told him many of the students could not continue because they failed woefully. When Ribadu thumbed through the list, Sule said, it was a Mohammed, an Ibrahim, a Yusuf or an Abdullahi. “You don’t know what you are doing and because of this you cannot continue to head the school,” an irate Ribadu was said to have told the commandant.
Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was one of the students for whom the commandant was sacked. “You can see what Yar’Adua later became in life. He became the vice president. This is the power of forward planning,” Sule declared.
Ten trucks of Nigerien soldiers were seen being transported for service in the Nigerian Army from Gusau to Kaduna and over 2,000 more waiting on Niger-Nigeria border for transportation to Kaduna.
The secret document went on:
1,000 Chadian soldiers passed through Maiduguri en route Kaduna. These mercenary soldiers constituted the ‘Sweepers.’ The captured American teachers aptly observed that there were soldiers regarded as fighting soldiers and there were other units that came behind to conduct mass exterminations.
Major Alani, it was understood, was trying to get as many civilians as possible into the bush before the sweepers could arrive.
On 5 October, when they came, a lieutenant attempted to arrest the American teachers at St. Patrick’s College and their non-Igbo refugees who had hidden from retreating but still vicious Biafran troops.
Captain Johnson quickly summoned Major Alani. The lieutenant claimed to be acting for a “Major Jordane,” but a check proved this as false. Alani sent the lieutenant and his men away and posted a guard to the school until the staff and refugees left Asaba. There were too many civilians to be executed that Captain Paul Ogbebor and his men were asked to get rid of a group of several hundred Asaba citizens rounded up on 7 October. Not wanting to risk insubordination, he marched the contingent into the bush, told the people to run and had his men fire harmlessly into the ground. Eyewitness accounts confirmed that he performed the same life-saving deception in Ogwashi-Uku.
However, other civilian contingents the sweepers rounded up were shot behind the Catholic Mission and their bodies thrown into the Niger River. This incident and many others were reported to Colonel Arthur Halligan, the US military attaché in Nigeria at that time, the document concluded.”
Earlier on in 1945 and 1953, the Hausa-Fulani political leadership had carried out two premeditated pogroms on Igbo immigrant populations in Jos and Kano in opposition to the Igbo vanguard role in the struggle for the restoration of Nigerian independence from British conquest. Hundreds of Igbo were murdered on each occasion and their property looted or destroyed. Neither in Kano nor Jos did the regime apprehend or prosecute anyone for these massacres and destruction. Tragically, these pogroms turned out as ‘dress rehearsals’ for the 1966-1970 genocide that was to later claim millions.
The perpetrators, who subsequently seized and pillaged the rich Nigerian oil and gas economy, got off free from any form of sanctions for what are, unquestionably, crimes against humanity. Suffice it to say that it’s the same people that have controlled the government of Nigeria since then, including Mr. Buhari, the current President.
There was an extensive coverage of the Igbo genocide in the international media throughout its duration. The United Nations though never condemned this atrocity unequivocally. U Thant, its Secretary-General, consistently maintained that it was a ‘Nigerian internal affair’. The United Nations could have stopped this genocide. In the wake of the Jewish genocide of the 1930s-1940s during which 6 million Jews were murdered by Nazi Germany, Africa was, with hindsight, most cruelly unlucky to have been the ‘testing ground’ for the presumed global community’s resolve to fight genocide subsequently, particularly after the 1948 historic United Nations declaration on this crime against humanity.
Only a few would have failed to note that U Thant’s reference to ‘internal’ was staggeringly disingenuous as genocide, as was demonstrated devastatingly 20-30 years earlier on in Europe, would of course occur within some territoriality (‘internal’) where the perpetrator exercises a permanent or temporary sociopolitical control as a state actor.
To make matters worse, a senior British foreign office official was adamant that his government’s position on international relief supply effort to the encircled and bombarded Igbo was to ‘show conspicuous zeal in relief while in fact letting the little buggers starve out’. [See Roger Morris, Uncertain Greatness: Henry Kissinger & American Foreign Policy (London & New York: Quartet Books, 1977, p. 122; see also Michael Leapman, ‘While the Biafrans starved, the FO moaned with hacks’, The Independent on Sunday (London), 3 January 1999.]
Robert Melson, a foreigner, a Holocaust survivor and a Nigerian expert who witnessed what happened between 1967 and 1970, in his book, Revolution and genocide, states: “I could not help but make the connection between their experience and my own. Biafrans were being killed purely for their identity: it was as if the twenty-some years after the Second World War had been compressed into a few minutes. The Holocaust monster was on the prowl again, and it was no use trying to escape its implications in Africa or elsewhere.”
If the Rome Statute had then existed, Nigeria’s head of the Federal Military Government, Yakubu Gowon, his commanders and several others would have been prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity for orchestrating the destruction of Biafrans in whole or in substantial part because of their ethnicity.
2. The Present Era
We are aware of the propaganda emanating from the Nigerian government and Northern Nigerian Islamic fundamentalists aligned with the government that the neo-Biafran struggle for self-determination is an ethnic backlash against President Muhammadu Buhari just because he is an Hausa-Fulani Muslim. We state unequivocally that this is false and petty. The truth is that the post-war struggle peaked in mid-2015 when Mr Buhari systematically embarked on his Jihadist policies, coupled with his open toleration of Fulani herdsmen terrorists that had simultaneously commenced an intense ethnic cleansing of Christians, including Biafrans. This was also immediately following a well-publicized comment by Mr Buhari (during his campaign for the presidency) that ‘an attack against Boko Haram is an attack against northern Nigerian Muslims’. Little wonder then that Boko Haram terrorism has peaked to new highs since Buhari’s presidency.
In the face of Mr Buhari’s anti-Christian posturing and his complicit inaction to rein in herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists, Biafrans responded by organizing themselves under a group named the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, a devout Jewish adherent of dual Nigerian and British citizenship.
It is to be noted that Kanu was born in 1967 and thus never participated in the war of 1967–1970. So, he couldn’t have been driven by a sense of loss, revenge or bitterness but by, instead, a sense that his people are being treated badly and are on the verge of again becoming victims of another genocide. A majority of Biafrans share the same view, even so quietly because of fear of retribution by the Nigerian government or other non-state Islamic groups in alliance with the government.
Kanu, who employed non-violent means, was nonetheless harassed, arrested, tortured, jailed without trial; and, according to credible accounts, was offered gratification to abandon the struggle but he refused. His tribulation is but one of such levied by the Buhari-led administration against thousands of Biafrans, all because of their ethnicity and religion and for possessing a political opinion (self-determination) which the government of Nigeria is intent on suppressing through a punishment of some sorts.
Amnesty International reports that, since the advent of the Buhari administration in 2015 until now, the Nigerian government has killed more than 300 Biafrans and wounded many more while they held peaceful protests against the killings and for self-determination. Amnesty International says that many of those pro-Biafra protesters were shot and killed in their sleep and others while they gathered in churches to pray. Many of the protesters were shot and killed from behind while they tried to escape.
According to the report titled “Nigeria: Shadow Report To The African Commission On Human And Peoples’ Rights, 62nd Ordinary Session: 25 April- 09 May 2018”:
In the southeast, the military was deployed to respond to a series of protests, marches and gatherings by members and supporters of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who are seeking the creation of an independent Biafran state. Between August 2015 and October 2016, security forces killed at least 150 IPOB members and supporters during non-violent gatherings. Amnesty International documented 11 incidents, including one where at least 60 people were killed in May 2016 when the security forces opened fire on IPOB supporters in various locations in the southeast, and another in September 2017, where security forces killed at least 12 IPOB supporters in Umuahia, Abia state. The Federal authorities banned IPOB in 2017.
Country Reports released by the US State Department between the current period in review (2016–2018) confirmed much of these, particularly the Nigerian government’s declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization in September 2017, which shocked the conscience of the international community, especially as President Buhari had fought against declaring Boko Haram a terrorist organization and scoffs at the global view that Fulani herdsmen terrorists militia is the fourth deadliest in the world.
As you are reading this, the massacre by Fulani herdsmen Islamic terrorists is on-going. We continue to bury our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters every week and every month. We have watched our daughters and wives publicly raped and butchered. People have been burnt alive.
President Buhari has made Nigeria the most dangerous country in the world for Christians, most especially Biafrans. Hundreds of thousands are routinely plundered, tortured, or killed with impunity by Nigerian security forces controlled and populated by Buhari’s tribesmen, often in collaboration with Fulani herdsmen Islamist terrorist group. The US Presidential Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended listing Nigeria as a country of concern because of its religious oppressions. Vice President Mike Pence has voiced acute chagrin over the genocidal persecution of Christians in Nigeria. United States sales or transfers of weapons to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram are diverted to killing and terrorizing largely Christian Biafrans.
President Buhari is undoubtedly promoting radical Islam in Nigeria. He has joined the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and is presently planning a publicly-funded OIC Islamist Film Festival in a secular Nigeria. He has endorsed Sharia law in twelve northern Nigerian states. He has treated Boko Haram with kid gloves, releasing from detention hundreds arrested by the previous administrations and giving them financial inducements and directed their mass recruitment into the Nigerian army. He has appointed radical Muslims to head every Nigerian security agency. He is an ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism under United States law; and he has generally pursued policies that put Nigeria at odds with US national interest since he came to office.
President Buhari is conducting a genocidal campaign against tens of millions of Biafrans, including mass killings, torture, and the destruction of Christian schools, hospitals and churches. He has wrongly branded and terrorized the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to retaliate against peaceful demonstrations favouring the restoration of Biafran independence that was cruelly extinguished by a genocidal military campaign Buhari partly led between 1967 and 1970. He has concocted treason charges against IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu to crush Biafran self-determination, despite the fact that self-determination is legal under Nigerian law. Mr. Buhari’s demonic rule is convulsing Nigeria and creating new safe havens for radical Islamic terrorists.
Just recently, former President Obasanjo publicly stated that there is an agenda to Islamize and ‘Fulanize’ Nigeria. And a few days later, former Christian military leaders of Nigeria filed a petition before the British Parliament pointedly accusing Mr Buhari of pursuing a jihad to Islamize Nigeria. The sole umbrella organization of Christians in Nigeria — the Christian Association of Nigeria — has lately expressed similar fears.
Biafrans constitute a distinct “nationality” within Nigeria. Approximately 60 million Biafrans reside in Nigeria, the majority in the five Biafran states in the southeast: Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi, with a sizable number residing in Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
Biafra enjoyed sovereignty before Great Britain commenced colonial rule over Nigeria. Prior to British colonization in 1906, Biafrans enjoyed decentralized self-government. In 1900, the British government assumed responsibility for the Royal Niger Company’s territories, and formed the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria, the Southern Protectorate and the Lagos Colony; protectorate territories in 1914 witnessed the amalgamation of Nigeria into three administrative areas: the crown colony of Lagos and the protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria, altogether called Nigeria.
In 1960, Britain ended its colonization of Nigeria without reference to the Biafrans or any other peoples of Nigeria entitled to self-determination. The Nigeria Independence Act established Nigerian territorial boundaries not by popular referendum or other reliable manifestations of self-determination of peoples, but according to the Nigeria’s Orders in Council, 1954 to 1960. Britain’s failure to offer Biafrans the right to self-determination violated the United Nations General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples adopted on 14 December 1960. Paragraph 5 of the Declaration required that immediate steps be taken by the colonial power “to transfer all powers to the peoples of those [colonized] territories…in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire…in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom.”
The 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations emphasized that, “By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine without external interference their political status….”
The people of Biafra — recognized as distinct by British colonial authorities — were never provided an opportunity to vote for complete independence and freedom from the rest of Nigeria according to their freely expressed will and desire. They were never consulted on the subject when Nigeria became independent in 1960. Further, the 1960 Constitution of Nigeria was never approved by the people of Biafra in a referendum or otherwise. And neither has any subsequent Nigerian Constitution, including the current version decreed by a military dictator in 1999.
After independence, Nigeria soon became a ‘house of horrors’ for Biafrans. Deprived of their right to self-determination, they were left to the tender mercies of the Hausa-Fulani of the North and the largely Muslim Yoruba of the South in a unitary state unsuited for Nigeria’s diverse tribal, ethnic, and religious groupings. The gruesome 1967–1970 Biafran war was emblematic. It featured ethnic-based massacres and starvation of up to 2 million Biafrans by the Government of Nigeria. At the war’s conclusion, Mr. Gowon (who led Nigeria) trumpeted, “No victor, no vanquished.” The words proved a cruel hoax. Biafrans have been marginalized, persecuted and subjected to a Northern military political yoke ever since; and there is no end in sight as the current President Mr Buhari has ratcheted up on it, all with his burgeoning jihad.
The Indigenous People of Biafra and its leader Nnamdi Kanu have taken up the tasks of ensuring the survival of Biafrans while pursuing a legal pathway to the restoration of Biafra.
On the basis of the foregoing, we respectfully request that the State Department recommend, among other things, denying weapons sales or transfers to Nigeria under the Leahy Amendment; listing Nigerians complicit in persecuting Christian Biafrans under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act; and supporting a United Nations-organized and -conducted referendum on restoring Biafran independence.
We would be grateful for an opportunity to continue this engagement and to meet with the US Congress and White House officials to discuss our conviction that the interests of the United States in protecting Biafran Christians, defeating radical Islam, and preventing instability in West Africa would be enhanced by adjusting or altering current bilateral relations with Nigeria based on the foregoing.