Below is a speech delivered by Barrister Emeka Emekesiri at the General Conference of the Biafrans in Europe.
The conference was organised by the European chapter of World Igbo Conference and held on 3rd October, 2020.
Chief Ralph Uwazuruike also delivered a speech at the event:
(1) With great pleasure I received the invitation from the European Chapter of the World Igbo Congress to be a Special Guest Speaker at this Conference. Upon perusing the invitation, I noticed that I would be speaking with another Biafran Leader in the person of Chief Ralph Uwazurike of MASSOB who I met first in 2007 at the Keffi Prison in Nasarawa State when I went to seek for his release from detention by the authority of Igbo Lawyers Forum Port Harcourt. I appeared in the Federal High Court Abuja on Monday 16th July 2007 with the late Chief Chimezie Ikeazor, SAN, Oboli Obosi II, before the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako to advocate for his release. I greet and respect Chief Ralph Uwazurike who started the open agitation for the independence of Biafra in 1999 when many people were afraid to talk about Biafra. We must give honour to whom honour is due. This is a happy re-union.
(2) I think it is necessary for you to know me from the roots. I am Emeka John Chigozie Emekesiri, formerly called Emeka Adolf Chigozie, the son of Emekesiri Igbokwe of Okwara Unegbu Village, Amucha, Njaba Local Government Area, in the Orlu Senatorial District, Imo State. I am a barrister & solicitor, pastor, estate surveyor & valuer and management consultant. I was trained at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus; Imo State University Owerri; Rivers State University of Science & Technology Port Harcourt; and the University of Law, London.
(3) In the Biafran Project, I am the vision bearer of the legal methodology of self-determination and the creator, originator and founder of the following entities: Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB); Bilie Human Rights Initiative (BHRI); Movement of Biafrans in Nigeria (MOBIN); Customary Government of Indigenous People of Biafra (CGIPOB); Supreme Council of Elders of Indigenous People of Biafra (SCE). These entities were built upon the foundation of law and political diplomacy anchored on the vision for self-determination in accordance with our Master Plan. Although many things seem to have gone wrong with the Biafran Project, I confirm that my original vision of self-determination by law and political diplomacy is still intact. Today, we have been asked to speak on the issues of Security and Biafraland as being non-negotiable.
(4) Chief Ralph Uwazurike has spoken about security in the South East and said that there is no security problem in the South East. I agree with him that the South East is more peaceful than the rest of the country. The North and Middlebelt have experienced more security challenges than the East. He has accused the Biafrans in the Diaspora of spreading false propaganda and exaggerating the news of insecurity in our land. He has also accused the people in the Diaspora of helping to destabilize our land and desecrate our traditional values by sponsoring and supporting Nnamdi Kanu to destroy our value system. He has said so many things today and revealed some chilling stories about how Nnamdi Kanu sent his men to assassinate Asari Dokubo recently but Asari Dokubo outsmarted them and arrested the hired assassins. I don’t know how to react to this news but if this story is confirmed as true, it means that there is great trouble ahead in our land.
(5) On the issue of security challenges, we now have to contend with the fear of insecurity occasioned by our people against our people. Chief Uwazurike said that most of the people reported to have been killed were actually killed by Nnamdi Kanu and his members. He specifically mentioned Prophet Anthony Nwoko as one of those killed by Nnamdi Kanu and his members. I don’t want to make any comment on this story but only to say that I have taken note of his statements. I would rather speak about our security challenges from the threat of external invaders like the Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.
(6) Although Chief Uwazurike has said that there is no insecurity problem in our land, I am aware that the Fulani herdsmen massacred and killed thousands of our people at Uzo-Uwani in Enugu State few years ago. I gave a lecture at a MOBIN Zoom Meeting recently and proffered some solutions to the security challenges posed by the Fulani herdsmen which prompted one man from Ohafia to confirm that what I said actually happened in his village and that the suggestion I gave was what solved the problem of insecurity in their hometown. Therefore, I do not totally agree with Chief Uwazurike that there is no problem of insecurity in our land posed by the Fulani herdsmen, even though the news might have been exaggerated by false propagandists.
(7) It is indisputable that self-preservation is the first law of nature. As the Igbo people say, it is only a tree that will keep quiet and stand still without defending itself in the face of a threat to cut it down. Today we are threatened by the terrorists described as Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen. We have looked up to the Federal Government of Nigeria for help but no help has come. We have also looked up to the State Governments in Biafraland to create our Regional Security Outfit by the Laws of the States but they are dragging their feet.
(8) What is the way forward? The answer is to apply the Nigerian Law of self-preservation and self-defence to kill the aggressor before he kills us. I give this as a legal advice to all my clients who are the claimants in the on-going case between Biafra and Nigeria. It is the duty of a Solicitor to protect his clients by giving sound legal advice and I must do so now as the Solicitor for all the Biafrans who believe in the legal methodology of self-determination. I want all my clients to understand that it is not every killing that constitutes murder. Killing in self-defence is not murder. Killing by accident is not murder. Killing by provocation is not murder but only manslaughter under Section 318 of the Criminal Code. Since the Governments of the South East Region have not enacted any law for our regional security, we shall rely on the existing Nigerian law to defend ourselves. Unlike the Laws of England & Wales where provocation applies as a defence to only the cases of murder, the Nigerian law recognises provocation as a defence against both assaults and murder.
(9) Therefore, if the Boko Haram or Fulani herdsmen provoke us either by attacking our people, killing our people, raping our women, or destroying our crops, we must act as men and retaliate in the heat of passion without allowing the tempers to cool. Let men be men and let God be God! On the judgment day, whether on earth or in heaven, justice shall prevail because God is a righteous Judge. Any killing after the tempers have cooled becomes murder. The reprisal attacks must be in the heat of passion without letting the tempers to cool. Let all our able bodied men and women get ready to defend our territory. I now warn the enemies that there MUST be reprisal attacks if they attack us again.
(10) The man from Ohafia confirmed that when the Fulani herdsmen killed the first person, their Traditional Ruler appealed to the youths to keep calm without taking the laws into their hand as he tried to resolve the problem peacefully with the Fulani people. Unfortunately, the Fulani herdsmen killed another person. The youths boiled with anger to go for war and the Traditional Ruler calmed them down again but went to the Military Barracks in Ohafia and warned the Fulani Soldiers that if such a thing should happen again, then there would be serious reprisal attacks on the Fulani herdsmen. Oddly enough it happened again! The Ohafia youths moved into action and killed the Fulani herdsmen and carried their corpses to the Military Barracks and were ready for a showdown. From that day peace returned to the Community. The Fulani herdsmen now live in peace with their host community and if they want to graze their cattle, they would approach the owners of the bush and ask for permission.
(11) I know that our upbringing as Christians made most of us to become naïve. I have interpreted the scriptures where The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to turn the other cheek if slapped on the right cheek. He simply meant that we should not be easily provoked but to give the enemy a second chance to think twice and repent. Now in our own case we have given the enemies more than enough chances to repent. They have slapped us on the right cheek and we turned the left cheek. They have slapped us again on the left cheek and there is no more cheek remaining to be turned. If they slap us on the face, Jesus Christ did not command us to turn our back. Slapping us on our face means that we must face the enemy. It is now fire for fire, blood for blood. The Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle James that we should resist the devils and they would flee from us. The Boko Haram and Fulani terrorists and criminals are the devils we must resist now. No more tears and crying for the devils in Biafraland. We must defend ourselves and our territory by any means we know how.
(12) Now I want to talk about Biafraland as it is today and beyond 2023. I know that some lawyers may wonder why I describe the Eastern Region as Biafraland despite the loss of the Biafran Sovereignty to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1970. I have argued this point in Court with the Nigerian lawyers and defeated them on the issue in the on-going case between Biafra and Nigeria.
(13) Firstly, I want to emphasise that we are Biafrans living in Nigeria. We are the remnants of Biafra that were not consumed in the war. What we lost after the war was our sovereignty and not our indigenous identity as a people. We are Nigerians by citizenship which was forced upon us but Biafrans by indigenous identity. Most importantly, we did not lose our ancestral homeland. We are still in possession of our land. This therefore engages the principles and rules of Land Law in ownership and possession of which I am an expert as an Estate Surveyor & Valuer and a Property Lawyer. Some lawyers think that it is better to describe the land as the land where the Biafrans dwell instead of describing it as Biafraland. It is my submission that the land where the Biafrans dwell must be called Biafraland within the Nigerian Sovereignty until we gain independence from Nigeria. Therefore, it is Biafraland in Nigeria. Any Nigerian lawyer who disagrees with me should put on his wig and gown and meet me in Court.
(14) In fact, the Land Use Act of 1978 which we have condemned as being obnoxious is actually in our favour in disguise as it vests all interests in land in the State Governor to hold as a trustee and not in the Federal Government. Therefore, by the Nigerian Land Law, the Federal Government of Nigeria has no land in any State and cannot acquire any land in any State unless granted by the State Government. Moreover, the State Governor cannot acquire the land from us unless for public purposes and must firstly revoke the right of occupancy and give us the right to oppose the notice of compulsory acquisition. The Federal Government must apply to the State Government for allocation of land for any Federal Project in the State.
(15) I have heard rumours that some State Governors in Biafraland have acquired or planned to acquire some lands from some communities to donate to the Fulani herdsmen for their cattle business. This is unlawful because the acquisition is not for public purposes as cattle business is a private business. Any land acquired wrongfully by a State Governor and given to the Federal Government or to the Fulani herdsmen can be revoked by a new Governor of the State. The Land does not belong to the Federal Government but vested in the Governor of the State to hold as a trustee. All the Governors of the States in the Eastern Region are Biafrans by indigenous identity and Nigerians by citizenship.
(16) With this understanding, we shall now look forward to 2023 and beyond. The question is as to what or how we want Biafraland to look like from now to 2023 and beyond. I have made it clear that we did not lose our territory but only our sovereignty. We are still occupying our Biafran homeland. Then, why is our homeland devastated and in shambles? Who has been ruling over our homeland since after the war?
(17) When I came into the Biafran Struggle, the first problem I encountered was the aversion of the Biafran activists to politics. They said that they were not Nigerians but Biafrans and would not participate in the Nigerian politics and census. All my preaching to make them understand the difference between citizenship or nationality and indigenous identities of the peoples living in the country fell into the deafness of fanatical and unbridled zeal without knowledge. In the end, the Biafran activists could not train and groom Biafran politicians to take over power in Biafraland and implement the Biafran Ideology. Even up to this day, the imposter who parades himself as the leader and founder of Indigenous People of Biafra has continued to discourage his members from participating in politics. He has become confused with his roadmap of insults and abuses on dignitaries and constituted authorities as he shows us the different shapes and photographs of the ears and nose and eyelids of Mr Jubril from Sudan occupying Aso Rock! In fact, most of his followers are now tired of hearing about Jubril and seeing various photographs of Jubril.
(18) There are basically two broad ways of achieving independence. It is either by military method or legal method. The military method calls for war and violence while the legal method calls for the use of judicial, political and diplomatic processes. In the present dispensation, the International Community has outlawed the use of violence to achieve self-determination. It is therefore necessary for the Biafrans to embrace our legal methodology. We have activated all the three processes of the legal methodology. We are in Court with Nigeria. We are in politics with Nigeria politicking in the interest of Biafraland. We have engaged with the members of the International Community and some World Powers in diplomatic discussions. We have filed the Biafran Memorandum in the Senate for devolution of power to the Regions. Our plan is to achieve Regional Autonomy before seeking for outright independence in future. It is the Regional Parliament that will pass the bill of referendum into law for the people to vote for independence in future.
(19) Concerning the year 2023, some people believe that there will be no Nigeria by that date. In fact, some overzealous Biafran activists have promised several times that Biafra Independence would come in 2015, 2018, and now 2020. The year is almost gone without seeing Biafra Republic but one day can make a difference. Some have planned to destroy and pull down the fraudulent Nigerian Constitution before 2023 so that Nigeria would collapse.
(20) These are possibilities that could lead to the disintegration of Nigeria. The crucial question is as to what would happen to the Biafrans and their territory should the predictions come true. Would there be anarchy in the land and the people scattered like sheep without a shepherd? Would the various Biafran groups become rival cults killing one another in a tussle for power as happening now in South Sudan? Who would gather the Biafrans together and under what governmental authority assuming that Nigeria disintegrates this night?
(21) The Northerners have got an alternative government structure created by their States Houses of Assembly known as the Sharia Government. The Sharia Law is recognised by the Nigerian Constitution just as the Customary Law is recognised. In case of emergency, the Sharia Government would become a transitional government for the Northerners as all the powers of the States would be transferred to the Sharia Government. Unfortunately, the Houses of Assembly in Biafraland have not passed the Customary Government bill into law to make it a State organ. For this reason, our Customary Government was activated by a legal instrument known as Deed Poll of Customary Governance under private law with its limitations just like a multilateral treaty. This is not enough because it is only the State Power that can control a society by the use of statute law. We therefore request our State Governments to pass the Customary Government bill into law and create our Customary Government by the Laws of the State. Customary Governance is the bedrock of the Igbo society from time immemorial.
(22) Nobody knows tomorrow. We are in our ancestral homeland and have no other habitation even if Nigeria disintegrates. The earlier we built it up and secured it the better for everyone. The question is not whether Nigeria will exist after 2023 or not but what Biafraland shall look like after 2023 whatever may happen to Nigeria. We have proffered the best solution to the Nigerian Government by the Memorandum we submitted to the Senate to restructure Nigeria to 6 autonomous Regional Governments according to the 6 geopolitical regions so that every Region will govern itself and develop at its own pace just like Britain has 4 autonomous Regional Governments called England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Laws of Scotland are different from the Laws of England and Wales. You cannot compel peoples with incompatible lifestyles to live together in a forced unity. In fact, unity by force is tantamount to slavery. If Britain could become the Great Britain with 4 nations in one, it is my submission that Nigeria can also become the Great Nigeria with 6 nations in one.
Thank you for listening to me. I think I should stop here and take your questions. If any person wants to know more about us, he can visit our websites at http://www.ipobgovernment.org and http://www.mobinbiafra.org and contact us by email addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.