Indications emerged on Sunday that pro-Biafran activists are embarking on another round of mass rallies to press home their demand for a referendum over the ongoing agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra in the South-East and parts of the South-South.
The pro-Biafran agitators – mostly members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra – have been staging rallies to protest the continued detention of IPOB leader and Radio Biafra director, Nnamdi Kanu.
The groups, which had taken to the streets in Enugu, Onitsha, Asaba, Port Harcourt, Aba, Abakiliki and some other cities and towns in the South-East and South-South, were equally demanding recognition of Biafra as an independent state.
However, the National Director of Information, MASSOB, Edeson Samuel, told our correspondent in Enugu that the pro-Biafran agitators had decided to adopt a new approach by demanding a referendum on the issue in the ‘Biafra’ territories.
A referendum is a general vote by the electorate on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision, and in this case, the pro-Biafran activists want the Federal Government to allow the concerned people to decide, through voting, whether they wish to leave Nigeria and become a separate country – Biafra.
He explained that the demand for a referendum was informed by a plan to actualise Biafra through a peaceful, non-violent approach.
Edeson said the impending rallies had nothing to do with Kanu’s detention or possible release.
Although he restated the demand for Kanu’s immediate and unconditional release, Edeson noted that even if the IPOB leader was released, the activists would still go ahead to demand a referendum.
Speaking with our correspondent, the MASSOB spokesperson said, “We are going to embark on another round of protests and rallies to demand a referendum.
“We demand that the Nigerian government should conduct a referendum.
“We believe that we can actualise Biafra through peaceful, non-violent means. So, we are calling on the Nigerian government to conduct a referendum in the South-East and parts of the South-South.
“To this end, we are also appealing to the United Nations, the African Union and other world powers.
“We are not going to engage the Nigerian government through arms.”
Edeson expressed confidence in the outcome of the proposed referendum. According to him, the referendum would certainly result in the actualisation of Biafra as an independent state.
“Ninety-nine per cent of Igbo and our brothers from the Niger Delta areas are in support of a referendum and would vote for Biafra.
“We have been consulting widely and I can tell you that there is a lot of support for this demand.
“Even people in some parts of Kogi and Benue states want a referendum because they wish to be part of Biafra; I am talking of the Igalas, the Idomas, the Egedes.
“These people support the idea of a referendum because they all want Biafra. So, we are confident that the coming rallies to push for a referendum would be well received,” Edeson said.
He added that, in a bid to ensure that the Federal Government accedes to the demand for a referendum, the pro-Biafran agitators were sensitising the people to boycott ‘Nigerian goods and services.’
He also said efforts would be made to undermine Nigeria’s relations with the international community. But he did not explain how the secessionists intended to go about the plan. Condemning Kanu’s continued detention, and the treason charges brought against the Radio Biafra boss, Edeson said the pro-Biafran agitators were not afraid of arrest and detention.
“We will like to tell the police and the Department of State Services to open up their prisons and detention facilities to accommodate more of us.
“We are ready to be arrested and detained when we commence the rallies to demand a referendum – the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu cannot stop us,” he said.
“Even if they continue to detain him (Kanu), or release him today, we will still go ahead with the demand for a referendum.
“Nothing can stop us,” Edeson added. (Punch)