Bianca Ojukwu, the widow of the Biafran leader Emeka Ojukwu, has criticised the decision of the Nigerian military and governors of the southeast states in Nigeria to tag the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a “militant terrorist organisation”.
Her late husband led the doomed attempt by the southeast region to secede which resulted in the Nigerian civil war from 1967 to 1970. Mrs Ojukwu in a Facebook post wrote: “Freedom fighters? Yes. Terrorists? No!”
The former Nigeria High Commissioner to Spain continued: “The Federal Govt has just declared IPOB a terrorist Organisation after the Operation Python Dance 2 debacle with its attendant military occupation of our homeland. There is simply no justification for this categorization. The members of this movement do not bear arms. While I might have reservations about their sometimes provocative rhetoric as well as some of their tactics, this branding is to say the least, extreme. Ndigbo bear a painful historical burden. We lost almost 3 million of our people, almost a quarter of our population at the time between 1966 and 1970 in our battle for survival. Global and Regional Organisations did nothing; the world superpowers and most foreign governments looked the other way…and little has changed since then. Otherwise the horrendous crimes against humanity would not have occurred in Rwanda, Darfur, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Congo, not to mention Syria. Someone once said that the world laments atrocities only in aftermath, but not in the lead up when something could have been done. We have travelled this road before. We are now walking the minefield. When the tanks roll in, and the casualties begin to mount, the world will yet again call it another ‘internal matter’ or ‘ ethnic conflict’. And tell us that we ought to be grateful that we were not exterminated upon surrender.
“We owe it to the memory of those who we loved and lost, who were let down by those who could have come to their rescue, and who paid the supreme price in our battle for survival to say NEVER AGAIN. OZOEMENA.
“This is the time to apply the brakes. We must impress it upon our youth, who have become disillusioned and have lost hope in our collective existence in a union in which they feel increasingly excluded and isolated, the need to tread with caution. There is need to explore other avenues, and the doors must never be shut against dialogue. Surely another spring shall rise, in God’s own time , But what every onye Igbo must rise up against is this categorization of IPOB or any other pro Biafra movements which are not armed militias as terrorist organizations, and the increased military presence in the South East”.