FIFTY-SIX years old Kevin Mbama who hails from Orlu in Imo State says life has been bad for him ever since he was arrested for belonging to the Independent people of Biafra (IPOB), a group calling for a referendum to become independent from Nigeria.
Mbama who spoke with the media shortly after he was released alongside IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu said life as an Igbo man in Nigeria has become nasty, brutish and short.
“I make shoes for a living and the name of my company is Capbek Shoes (Nig) Enterprises with an office at E23 Capital Line, Ariaria International Market.
It was a thriving business which I use to take care of my wife and kids. I commute between the shop at Aba and go and see my family in Umuahia at weekends. The continuous harassment by the Nigerian Military, under the directive of the federal government brought a lot of frustration to so many Igbos. Having witnessed the murder of two of my uncles, Mbama Ogbeakwu and Mbama Nnodim, 19 and 23 years respectively, during the Nigerian Civil war, I opted to join IPOB to seek for a referendum to become independent. If we truly believe in what we say we practice, which is democracy, why should a particular group of people be silenced through killings and abductions? As we speak today, we are yet to know the whereabout of our leader, Nnamdi Kanu. After the raid on his family home, we don’t know if he is alive of dead,” he said.
Mbama said over a period of five years, IPOB have continuously staged peaceful protests. “The group got seriously bruised when Muhammadu Buhari became president in 2016. Ever since, it has been one form of attack and killing on the Igbo people. This is a president of the Fulani stock; a people with an agenda to conquer the entire country and turn us into slaves. It was soldiers of that ethnic stock that led the onslaught witnessed during the war against my people. With his coming to power on May 29 , 2015, evidence of such clannish desires started coming to the fore. Under the guise of looking for feedstock for their cattle, terrorists masquerading as Fulani herdsmen started attacking communities in our villages. One of such attacks occurred on November 11, 2015 at Olokoro in Abia State with another happening on of January 3, the following year, in Ozuitem in Bende. During these attacks, farmlands and crops were destroyed and lives lost. The non-responsive nature of the military and the police to the reports of attacks made us become more resolute in our agitations for a referendum for a sovereign state of Biafra as members of IPOB,” he said.
He added: “I was arrested twice in August, 2017, detained without trial for days. We now live in fear for being killed. Majority of us now operate from underground. My family house in Isiama Afara is less than half a km away from Kanu’s house. Three days after our relocation to the village, in the evening of September 10, 2017, while we were deliberating our presentations to an already scheduled meeting of the hierarchy of the movement with the governors of the South-Eastern states scheduled to take place at Enugu on September 15, 2017, and to appraise the outcome of a previous meeting which took place on August 31, with the same governors, we heard gunshots outside and everybody ran for cover into various parts of the Palace. The shooting continued for about 30 minutes. Those who ran into the palace said the shooting was being carried out by soldiers under the operation python dance 2. Upon an assessment of the neighbourhoods, we found people with bullet wounds, houses with bullet holes. In my house, my sitting room walls were riddled with bullets from the shooting. After this attack, our leader convened another meeting to contemplate a response.
Our media spokesman, Emma Powerful was mandated to inform the press about the attack and the series of injuries that were sustained from that attack. We went to Aba, Ngwa High school to be precise for a rally. The rally was meant to show that the leader was not killed during the raid and to mobilize support for the struggle. But that was not supposed to be as information got to us that soldiers were on their way. We went to the palace and before we knew it, the whole area became a war zone. How I manage to escape into the bush unhurt that day is still a mystery to me. Since then, the whereabouts of our leader is yet unknown. I have been on the run since, becoming a refuge in my own country. Extra-judicial killing is the order of the day. We appeal to the international community to come to our rescue and help put a stop to the killings of my people.
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