We contacted Ace Nnorom, a British lecturer in public and international law, to understand what are the reasons behind the new secessionist flame to restore the Nation of Biafra. Mr Nnorom opened up and told Pressenza Italy about the crisis in IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu and his business partner Uchenna Alphonsus Okafor-Mefor.
Hello Mr Nnorom, thank you for accepting our invitation to have this interview with Pressenza Italy. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers and listeners so we can have a clear picture of who you are and your role in the Biafra secessionist movement.
Point of correction: Biafra movement is not a secession movement but it is a movement for the restoration of Biafra. My name is Ace Nnorom I am a British citizen of Biafran extraction. I hold no Nigerian passport. I am not a Nigerian. My parents are from Biafra. My Dad fought during the Biafran war and then emigrated to Cameroon where I was born. I am currently working to help restore the Nation of Biafra. I am helping the Indigenous people of Biafra because I am also a Biafran.
Thank you for clarifying the issue of the secessionist movement. Can you give us some elements of the history of Biafra, its people, and relations with Britain and Nigeria?
The history of Biafra is very simple. Before the coming of the Europeans, the coming of the British to Nigeria to be precise, Biafra was an independent Nation. Then Frederick Lugard amalgamated Biafra, Oduduwa (Yoruba) and Arewa (Hausa) and formed the Nigeria you see today. Biafra comprises the following states: Rivers State, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Bayelsa, Delta, Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Ejagham, Eket, Ibeno and the Ijaw among others.
Is it safe to say that Biafra is not all about Igbos and for Igbos alone? Because in Italy when you talk about Biafra we immediately think about the Igbo people.
No! Biafra is not about the Igbo people. The word Biafra is even an Ijaw name. It was named by an Ijaw man. When you look at the 1885 map of Biafra (Eastern Nigeria) you have Abor, Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Olu, Ikote, Ekpene, Uyo Eket, Calabar, Ogoja oji, River, Akwa, Oka, Onitsha, Innewi, Okigwe, Anan, Abakiliki, Yenegua, Warri, Asaba and Ugheli.
Recently the 30th of May 2017 was the memorial day, 50th anniversary since the Biafran war and Biafran genocide. Why after 50 years from the civil war are we still talking about Biafra?
Like I told you from the beginning, Biafra is a Nation that exists in the shadow of Nigeria. The same reasons that caused the war are still existing in Nigeria today. Injustices, discrimination, social incohesion and blatant killings of Biafrans or what I call ethnic cleansing. Now we also have the Fulani herdsmen who are marauding down to the Eastern region which is Biafra and killing people, killing even non-biafrans like in Benue State. Biafran people are discriminated in jobs, they are continuously killed by Hausa Fulanis and the Nigerian police and government cannot do anything about it. The injustices in Nigeria against the Biafran people is so high that Biafrans see no way of survival and want to make sure that Biafra is restored. That’s why after 50 years we are still talking about Biafra. We are not happy under Nigeria and the amalgamation and we are asking the international community to help us. In 1914 when the amalgamation of Nigeria took place, Frederick Lugard said that after 100 years from 1914 the amalgamation of Nigeria could be dissolved. The 100 years contract expired in January 2014. Now we want our freedom and country back.
Mr. Nnorom, several international analysts and human rights organisations fear a new civil war. Are they right to worry?
No, they don’t need to worry about war because there will be no war. War has only occurred through the international community because the international community were the one advising Nigeria. Nigeria has been receiving advice from the United Nations and the United Kingdom because Britain supports Nigeria as a one and indivisible country. That’s wrong. The Biafrans are following a very peaceful way of trying to establish a Nation and this time they are working towards a road map which will take them to the United Nations and they are looking forward to the United Nations backing Referendum which will be monitored by the same UN and other nations group. We weren’t given a choice to whether to stay in Nigeria in 1914. Now it’s time to give us that choice through a UN monitored Referendum. If there will be any war it will be forced on Biafrans. Biafrans are peace loving people.
Since the Biafran struggle started what relations do you think the Biafrans have with other neighboring peoples in this case like nigerians? Do they hate each other?
Biafrans still do business in Nigeria but what you have to understand is that the Nigerian people are a bit funny in the sense that they are the ones being aggressive towards Biafrans. The Biafrans are only saying that they don’t want to be part of this country called Nigeria. We had our Nation. We declared our independence in 1960.
Mr Nnorom, i know you said Biafra is different from Nigeria and Biafra is not part of Nigeria but in Europe when you say Nigeria they think of the Hausas, Yorubas and the Biafrans all together. So I want to ask you Nigeria is a Multiethnic State, like many African States regardless of your views: is this Multiethnicity recognized politically? Are there laws protecting minorities in Nigeria?
According to your outside perspective Nigeria is supposed to be a Multi-ethnic State. In Nigeria, multi-ethnicity cannot work just like the way you can’t mix water and oil together. Because of the discrimination and racism against Biafrans from Nigerians especially in the North. There’s no way Nigeria can be a happy multi-ethnic State. Nigerians don’t believe in a multi-ethnic community. Nigeria is a contraption, a jungle. That’s why Nnamdi Kanu and it’s followers decided to call Nigeria a Zoo. And with the election of Muhammadu Buhari everything got worse.
I want to ask you something since you mentioned Buhari, the current President of Nigeria. When Goodluck Jonathan was President of Nigeria, I think he completely ignored the Biafra struggle but why is it that with Buhari everything is different? Do you think that Buhari helped to make the Biafra struggle more popular?
You need to understand that Jonathan didn’t ignore the Biafra struggle. In life people have their personal interest and ambition. I think Jonathan didn’t know whether to help the struggle so he decided to remain as the President of Nigeria instead of helping his people, the Biafrans because he’s also a Biafran.
Italian media and NGOs were very sopportive of the Biafra struggle. There were a lot of articles from Italy or at least they helped with Biafra awareness. Now some journalists and NGOs in Italy don’t really trust IPOB under the leadership of Nnamdi Kanu because after several investigations they found out things about the movement, they said there’s too much sick fanaticism and worshiping of a man. They literally said Biafrans glorify and worship this man Nnamdi Kanu and that’s so wrong because it’s given us, from the outside, a wrong idea of them and their group. Are Biafrans not supposed to be Christians? Some Biafrans now call Nnamdi Kanu “Supreme”, “King”, “God”, “Master”, “Prophet” and “Saviour”. This is absolutely ridiculous and the man in question here Kanu doesn’t even do anything to stop all this. What are your views in regards to this?
Well what you need to understand is that IPOB is not under one leadership. There are a lot of groups fighting and working towards the restoration of Biafra. Nnamdi Kanu hijacked the name IPOB. IPOB stands for Indigenous People of Biafra. IPOB belongs to everybody in Biafraland. Everybody from the Lower Niger region is an indigenous person. But there are people who listened to what Nnamdi Kanu was saying on the Radio Biafra London (RBL) and believe that Nnamdi Kanu is speaking for them and speaks the things that they are not able to say. And when they listen to him some of them become eccentrics and so happy and believe him as their prophet and they actually lost their mind. Nnamdi Kanu is just one person and calling himself “Supreme” leader is not good. There’s nothing like a supreme leader in our land, Biafra. Biafrans are Republicans. Nnamdi Kanu is of Igbo extraction and even in Igboland there’s nothing like supreme leader.
Nnamdi Kanu actually coming from prison maybe has been touched in the sense that his mental state cannot actually be known since he’s allowing people to bow down to him and call him “King, God, Saviour and Supreme”. We have many heads in IPOB. The group running IPOB now is known as the DOS (Directorate of State ) and the head of the DOS is Mr Uchenna Asiegbu. DOS is like the parliament of Biafra. Then we have Radio Biafra International (RBI) which is different from Radio Biafra London (RBL) of Nnamdi Kanu. Radio Biafra London (RBL) where Nnamdi Kanu was preaching is owned by Nnamdi Kanu and Uchenna Alphonsus Okafor-Mefor. Radio Biafra London (RBL) is a private business which 75% of the share of RBL is owned by Nnamdi Kanu and 25% is owned by Uchenna Alphonsus Okafor-Mefor. That radio is a private registered business that Nnamdi Kanu and Uchenna Alphonsus Okafor-Mefor have. Nnamdi Kanu and Uche Mefor’s Radio Biafra London (RBL )is propagating lies, fake news, hate speech and character assassination also on Facebook. The only Biafran radio working for the restoration of Biafra now is Radio Biafra International (RBI). In IPOB/DOS and RBI nobody is a leader. Biafran people are equal in the eyes of God so there’s nothing like supreme leader in our struggle and in IPOB.