Ban will lead to more violence and conflicts – Nigeria’s Democracy is on the wrong path
50 years after the genocide in Biafra – Nigeria’s army labels Biafra-activists as “terrorists” (Press Release)
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has criticized the ban on the organization Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Nigeria, warning that the ban will lead to more violence in the south-east of the country. “50 years after the beginning of the genocide in Biafra, Nigeria’s army and the government have learned nothing from the mistakes of the past. Just like back then, the army is relying on brute force again. This is an attempt to intimidate and criminalize the Biafra-activists – escalation instead of entering a dialogue with the Biafrans,” explained Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Sunday. Last Friday, military spokesman Major General John Enenche had labelled the IPOB as a “terrorist movement”.
Last weekend, governors and police presidents of southeast Nigeria had confirmed that the IPOB would be treated as a banned organization – and that it will even be illegal to show the flag of Biafra. “If showing the Biafran flag is treated as a criminal offense, it is clear that the authorities are not only trying to silence the IPOB and their supporters, but to criminalize all Biafra-activists,” said Delius. “In legal terms, the ban is very problematic. It is a serious interference with organizational freedom, the freedom of assembly, and the freedom of expression. Apart from that, it is bad for Nigeria’s image as a democratic country if the army – not the leading constitutional bodies – can label the IPOB as a “terrorist” movement.”
The human rights organization warned that the IPOB should not be criminalized. “It will become even more difficult to initiate a political dialogue between the Biafrans and Nigerian politicians. Without a political dialogue, however, the Biafra issue will not be solved,” said Delius. “Nigeria has been trying to taboo the Biafra issue for decades. The protests by IPOB and other organizations clearly show that the issue is still relevant today.”
The STP had published a 76-page human rights report at the end of May 2017, focusing on the situation in Biafra and the increasing tensions between the security forces and the Biafra-activists. The report also provides evidence for the arrest of 1,244 Biafra-activists and the fact that 180 Biafra-activists were shot by the Nigerian security forces during the protests between August 2015 and May
2017. In the report, the STP emphasized that the Biafra issue should not be hushed up any longer. There must be a political dialogue to prevent further violence.
Header Photo: David Holt via Flickr