By Ndidi Uwechue
We ought to be looking at developments in the Lower Niger Bloc (South-South and South-East together) with clear eyes. There is a bloody situation going on in the Igbo area, with security services going after those they have tagged as killers. Much has been written about it and there are two key players. Firstly, we have IPOB/ESN a violent gang that was controversially proscribed as a terrorist group in Nigeria, but that recently rebranded itself as a “security outfit” by its leader and sole commander Nnamdi Kanu based in safety in the UK, from where he remotely controls his gang. The current trouble started when IPOB/ESN allegedly attacked police stations killing several police officers.
The other key player is the Central Government, who rather than deal with these indictable offences using a Criminal Justice approach, chose a very heavy-handed Military approach, and sent in the troops. We now have killings going on and destruction of property, with both parties accusing each other, and both parties lacking the trust of the public. What is clear is that the innocent caught up in this are paying with their lives.
Under the current regime of Buhari and Osinbajo, Nigeria was designated a Country of Particular Concern by the US Department of State, plus is under investigation by the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes. It also faces a damaged reputation from the Lekki Massacre of October 2020 during the End SARS protests. Given all these, Central Government should have handled the triggering offences in a manner that would have shown that Black lives matter. More so, Nigeria became a Disputed Project from December 2020 through the declaration of a Constitutional Force Majeure as an expression of a Sovereignty Dispute occasioned by the imposed illegitimate 1999 Constitution that had been Repudiated. Central Government will therefore have to explain to Nigerians and to the watching world what valid and legitimate powers or instruments it used to send the Military to Igbo land. This is under the additional fact that they were given the courtesy and a very generous time to cooperate with the democratic and peace-seeking Demands of the ORDERLY PROCESS of Constitutional Force Majeure. Had they done so, there would have been calm in the country, and restless gangs would have been contained.
As for the IPOB/ESN gang leader Kanu, having come onto the scene as a “freedom fighter” promising his followers an independent country of “Biafra”, most of the professionals who had initially supported him fell away when they saw no evidence for his claims, and no plan for getting his “Biafra”. However, Kanu has been able to recruit members for his IPOB/ESN gang among the marginalized, disaffected and unemployed. It would seem that to either keep them occupied, or distracted away from their longings for “Biafra”, Kanu sent his gang to go after the very real and terrifying menace of killer Fulani herdsmen. By so doing, it made Kanu’s IPOB/ESN gang more acceptable to a certain segment of the Igbo community.
What is imperative is that we do not allow the combination of IPOB/ESN gang and the Military to turn Igbo land or any part of the Lower Niger Bloc into a “theatre of war”. In a video communiqué on June 9, 2021 Tony Nnadi, Secretary-General of the Lower Niger Congress (LNC), made the NINAS* leadership position on the Military siege of Igbo land clear, with a “Cease and Desist” caution to the two sides involved in the ongoing carnage. The communiqué made it plain that Igbo land should not be seen as a playground for any gang leader or illicit Central Government (a status imputed by the illegitimate 1999 Constitution).
Going forward, NINAS is the Movement in the South and Middle Belt that is faithfully achieving self-determination for ethnic nationalities. For the Lower Niger Bloc it is a welcome relief that LNC, the lead organisation of the NINAS Movement, is speaking up for the owners of the land! The indigenous peoples have had poor leadership crises for a very long time now, with no guidance available for them, and leaders concerned only for their own personal gain, making (half-hearted) promises that they did not intend, or were not able to keep. Yet, “we the peoples” of the Lower Niger Bloc have always known exactly what they want, and they have been seeking leaders who would help bring that about. Since 1966 when the military coups abolished Federal Nigeria, they have known that they want no part of the Unitary Nigeria that has resulted ever since. Each Ethnic Nation in the Bloc therefore wants full self-determination to control their future.
That deep longing for self-determination and freedom is coming true because of LNC. LNC are the originators and developers of the Constitutional Force Majeure Strategy which started off the Decommissioning of the 1999 Constitution to release the self-determination and sovereignty that the Constitution had hijacked. The Strategy is an ORDERLY PROCESS using international law and United Nations protocols. That peaceful way is the kind of freedom pathway that the peoples of the Lower Niger Bloc should want! Those loud voices mostly based abroad in safety, who shout that freedom comes only by bloodshed, should therefore be ignored entirely. The freedom via self-determination that LNC is right now spearheading is, “bloodless, intellectually rooted, legally grounded”. Anxious minds will be reassured to know that nevertheless, the LNC Strategy has a self-defence component to deal with invaders such as killer Fulani herdsmen and terrorists, and it would be activated as needs be. What will cheer hearts is that we are nearing the end of the journey to self-determination. We are at Stage 14 out of 16. LNC has successfully completed 13 Stages, and now together with the peoples, will surely complete the remaining few Stages!
For those who may not know, LNC is an aggregation of several self-determination initiatives of the South-East and South-South. The original members of what was to become LNC recognized very early in 1999, soon after the illegitimate 1999 Constitution was imposed, that ethnic nationalities were now in trouble and would need to retrieve their self-determination that it hijacked. So their work to set the ethnic nationalities free by targeting the Constitution started. However, being very sensitive work, it was done quietly and without attracting undue attention. LNC was then formally unveiled to the public in 2009 in Warri, after several years of unpublicised operations, and reaching out to collaborate with the South-West and Middle Belt. The current President of LNC is Fred Agbeyegbe, an Itsekiri gentleman, and the current Secretary-General is Tony Nnadi, an Igbo man.
LNC have performed a whole lot without the need to threaten, kill or destroy! They are the self-determination EXPERTS who have now proven to us that they know what to do and how to do it. In these days of the 21st century, getting self-determination is not by war. LNC have been cautious and careful. That means doing their work thoroughly, wisely, clearly, transparently, and following relevant legislation (thus legally). In the absence of good leadership, LNC are emerging as the GUIDING LIGHT to lead our Lower Niger Bloc ethnic nationalities via the NINAS Movement into the self-determination and liberty that they have been waiting for, for fifty-five years. So: Follow who know road!
NINAS stands for the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination. That is, the indigenous peoples of Middle Belt, Oodua and Lower Niger Blocs, in Alliance.
Ndidi Uwechue is a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer and a Pro-Social Advocate. Her personal mission is to use every means available “To produce a safer and more caring Nigeria”. She writes from Abuja.
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