By Jonathan Ugbal
The tempo in the agitations by the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra may have calmed but CrossRiverWatch findings shows some Cross Riverians support the now illegal cause and that of Biafra under MASSOB as well.
MASSOB is Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra and is said to have been founded by Mr. Ralph Uwazurike.
The first of these was the open march in Ikom local government area of central Cross River where a group known as the Biafra National Youth League demonstrated at Ekukunela town on August 28, 2015.
One Chimezie Obuka who claimed to be the National President addressed the supporters at the Ekukunela town hall and blamed the ‘Muslim north’ for planting the seed of disunity in the old Eastern region.
He called for a referendum and condemned the ceding of the Bakassi Peninsula which according to him was Biafra territory. He also blamed General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) for this.
Almost a year later, on May 30, 2016 MASSOB members demonstrated with stiff resistance at Ikom where they were restricted to the New Okomo Layout less than a kilometer from where they had taken off.
The PUNCH had quoted the Vice Chairman of the Youth Council in the state as saying that he organized youths to stop the rally which was intended to mark the 49th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra. He described it as a flop.
The Zonal leader of MASSOB in the State, Samuel Okay had said that he believed Biafra statehood can be achieved through non violent means and called for a referendum even as he hoped Cross Riverians will join in the campaign.
The PUNCH quoted him as saying that: “Cross River was in the old Eastern Region that fought for Biafra because we are all one and the suffering we are passing through is experienced by all people of the South-South and South-East so there is no separation or differences among us.”
About 2 weeks later, Okon Archibong spokesman for MASSOB in the State claimed that the Police had arrested 10 of its members including Mr. Okay.
He is quoted as saying that: “Police from Ikom division went to the home of our State Coordinator, Samuel Okay, and nine other persons. They were all arrested.
“They did not tell us why the members were arrested. They are all being detained at the Ikom Police Station. No reason was given for their arrest.”
The then spokesman for the state Police command, ASP John Eluu denied knowledge of this.
The stool of the Obong of Calabar was this year dragged into the Biafra controversy which his council acted swiftly to dissociate itself from in a strong worded statement.
A video circulated in mid 2017 with the title; “BIAFRA: I’m very very happy we are now a nation” showed the self styled leader of the IPOB, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu addressing alleged emissaries of the Palace of the Obong of Calabar and saying he will like to visit the Obong soon.
But the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V on July 2 in a statement signed by the chairman of the Etuboms’ Traditional Council of his Palace, Etubom Bassey Okor Bassey Duke, said that the freedom of speech which is a right to all citizens does not extend to the propagation of falsehood.
The statement read: “The attention of the Obong of Calabar-in-Council has been drawn to a video currently making the rounds on social media in which a person is seen claiming to have been sent by the Obong of Calabar to ask Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB to visit him.
“The content of this video is therefore a ridiculous insult and the Obong of Calabar-in-Council dissociates itself completely from everything to do with the person and fake message carried in the video.
“From the poor illegitimate dressing, intonation, accent and comportment, it is clear that the person is a petty impersonator with dubious intentions.
“While freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution it does not extend to endorsing the propagation of falsehood or making fraudulent claims.
“The Obong of Calabar-in-Council, therefore calls on the security agencies to live up to expectation and immediately arrest and prosecute the impersonator whose face can clearly be seen in the video.”
The unidentified man in the video had claimed that the Obong sent his greetings and supports the Biafra cause.
Also, another video uploaded by SAHARAREPORTERS TV showed an acclaimed indigene of Begiaba village in Obudu speaking in support of the ‘Biafran Cause.’
The last incident concerning Cross River State was that of 37 year old Henry Ogar Ogoyi from Yala local government area of northern Cross River who was pictured kissing the feet of Mr. Kanu between July and August 2017 and sparked a controversy.
However, Mr. Ogoyi who is said to have been the only surviving son of his parents, was allegedly shot dead by the Nigerian Army on September 14, 2017 during the ‘Operation Python Dance’ saga while protecting Mr. Kanu.
He was buried on Sunday, October 1, 2017 with critics wondering why Mr. Kanu did not attend his funeral or send a condolence message as he left behind a pregnant wife and a son who is about one and half years of age.
Images obtained from LIB showed Mr. Ogoyi being laid to rest in green clad clothes and white gloves, colors viewed as Nigerian not Biafra.
Also, on Social Media, comments monitored by CrossRiverWatch show mixed reactions trailing every incident bordering on the Biafra question and how it relates to Cross River State.