February 6, 2017   20:35 CET

Published by IPOB writers

IPOB: TO RALPH UWAZURUIKE  BIAFRA IS A BUSINESS CENTRE

I used to think that Ralph Lebeanya Uwazuruike was driven by a genuine spirit of Biafra Restoration, but on his way through the struggle was intercepted by an avalanche of pressure, oppositions, contrary governmental inducements or sudden personal change of trajectory leading to his sight of Biafra restoration as a money making avenue.

Such line of thoughts surrounded my horizon until few days ago when I had a chat with an ex-MASSOB leader who was one of the persons that laid the foundation of MASSOB(Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra).

From my chat with Paul Nwogu, it is crystal clear that MASSOB or any Biafra related agitation connected to Uwazuruike was totally from the onset a platform for enriching himself (Uwazuruike) and his cohorts.

Having seen that Biafra is everything on the minds of Biafrans, Uwazuruike feigned genuineness on appearance but inwardly dubious which manifested only in a short run.

From the onset, he was full of tricks, lies, deceit and treachery.

Hard-core Biafrans were ready to follow him, pay their dues and compulsory contributions even when they saw that Uwazuruike was heading nowhere but was only interested in the money members were contributing and how he would enrich himself.

Despite the fact that Uwazuruike was seen changing expensive cars on different meeting days, building mansions yet some Biafrans, although discouraged, but having been brainwashed and hypnotized were not willing  to detach from his web.

According to Paul Nwogu, during my chat with him, I learnt that "Uwazuruike is diabolical, does not believe in God and was always avoiding prayers anytime he came for meeting."

My full chat with him:

Williams: Mazi Paul, I learnt  you were in MASSOB before, what happened?

Paul: I was in charge of Ezinihitte at that time...in fact I was second in command, according to how Uwazuruike rated everything that time, to Bede Osuji from Obizi who was in charge of Imo state.

Williams: What was the position's name called at that time? Was it coordinator or....?

Paul: We were called Province Leader.

Williams: Why did you leave?

Paul: In fact I came back from the north (northern Nigeria) because of this Biafra restoration. And before I joined MASSOB I went with Bede Osuji to meet with Ralph Lebeanya Uwazuruike face to face to have a chat at Okigwe (in Imo state). We scheduled to meet with him earlier so as to chat with him first before the day's meeting would commence.

During our chat I  interrogated him on the Biafra struggle, he assured us how far he had gone and how many different countries were supporting him. He told me everything and I told him that Biafra is the reason why I left the north.

I told him that I lost so many of my belongings in the North in order to come back for Biafra struggle and that I was not interested in going back there.

He reassured us that many countries were supporting us (Biafrans) and in no distant time Biafra would be actualized.

I remained in the village here, going to meetings in Okigwe, paying all the dues charged us at that time and transporting people at that time for meetings in Okigwe.

Sometimes, according to the number of people available to go for meeting, we hired buses. We resolutely continued to attend meeting every time at Okigwe.

But I later observed time after time that all would have seated, sung and prayed before Uwazuruike would enter. He preferred coming after prayers had been taken; and he would be coming with his entourage as different nick names would be resounding from members and he would be walking down like a king.

After sitting down, he would say whatever he intended to talk, only him, no one would ask a question or contribute. When he would have finished, he would turn his back and leave.

After meetings every month, we would pack all the money and give him.

A time came when long queues made people suffer under the Sun while trying to pay their dues and after paying, nothing less than N3m was always realised.

Then a time came when he started playing with our intelligence. When we appeared in meeting he would ask us whether we saw the vehicles that left from the place; that they were people from Thailand, UN, USA, UK, Israel or any other country he would make up. He would say that Biafra was set to be declared.

That his strategy continued for a long time until no one could understand anything going on anymore yet money was trooping in in millions on monthly basis but what the money was used for, members didn't know.

A time came when the money coming in was so much that he had to  devise another strategy: after people would have almost stampeded one another, under the sun, trying to pay their contributions and dues, heavy gun shots would be heard at a close distance which would make members take to their heels, running for their life. And during subsequent meeting, they would say that the money realised got missing as a result of the gun turbulence.

That continued intervally for sometime until another strategy came up: after contributions, police vans would be seen trooping into the premises, shooting guns; and members would scape for safety.

In fact a time came when he went diabolical: at the meeting premises, you would see smoke coming out from the ground but looking closely you wouldn't see any sign of burnt item.

But we later found out that Uwazuruike had gone diabolical. He went into charms and casting of spells.

At that time even though we were tired of him, we couldn't stop attending meetings. Even when we decided to stop going to meetings, we would see ourselves going again the next month. Then we knew that something was wrong somewhere. It was like seeing that someone is a dupe yet doing business with him/her.

At a time after the Freedom House in Okwe was ready, he developed another strategy: he started screening members to know those that were working hard (bringing in huge amount of money). He started threatening to remove leaders stating that they were not working hard.

For example: that Bede Osuji who was leading Imo state was to be removed so that others would start lobbying for his position. But he later asked them to go back to work and work harder (make more money).

As money was coming in in a huge amounts, instead of pushing forward for Biafra Actualization, we saw Uwazuruike buying lands, building mansions, buying different expensive cars like "Navigator" etc.

As that was going on, he arranged with the government of Achike Udenwa at that time and soldiers ambushed our(MASSOB's) convoy going to Okigwe (for a summit) and shot us to pieces, about 20 MASSOB members loosing their lives and 40 sustaining injuries.

After that failed summit, members stopped attending meetings for some time. But he later called for a meeting and introduced what he called "National Working Council (NWC), according to him, was a body that would take decisions that would stand in MASSOB. Anything they concluded would be done.

After the NWC was instituted, a week later we heard that Uwazuruike went to the field, probably to play ball or something, but was arrested by the police and taken to station.

MASSOB security equipped themselves to go and rescue him but he refused.

We found out later that it was his arrangement with the government of Nigeria to arrest him.

Later he was transferred to Abuja through arrangement with his godfather, at that time, Okechukwu Nwoga who was also a member of MASSOB.

The NWC was instructed to continue holding meetings and remitting money to Okechukwu Nwoga. But everybody was tired of the whole thing seeing that hundreds of millions already contributed were no where to be found neither were they used to forward the agitation.

So the NWC decided to make findings to ascertain the level Uwazuruike had gotten to in the struggle and know how to wade in but they found out that he had gone nowhere.

One day, Okechukwu Nwoga, having seen that we were not ready to remit any money to his account, called police for us where we were holding our meeting and they started shooting at us until we all were dispersed.

That act of Okechukwu made us to start changing meeting venues on a constant basis, from Owerri today to Okigwe tomorrow etc.

As the meeting was going on, little did we know that the head of NWC, Nnamdi Ohiagu, was also a crook too. Then he(Ohiagu) would ask us to contribute money for renting of office/secretariat but all to no avail; we contributed money but there was no office.

He asked us to contribute money for the purchase of land to be burying our members that would die in the struggle. We did contribute but no land seen.

At a time, some delegates were sent to Governor Orji-Uzo Kalu to tell him about our ordeal. The governor responded positively and gave them twelve million Naira (N12m). Unfortunately,  they shared the money among themselves; some used theirs to buy cars, others bought land etc.

Hmmmm! when that happened, at that time, Nnamdi Ohiagu resumed gathering people to devise another means of extracting money from us. But we were already wise and off the spells of Uwazuruike.

When Uwazuruike later learnt, while in prison, that we had stopped remitting money to his account or Ohiagu's account, he instructed Ohiagu to start chasing us with police anywhere we gathered.

He infiltrated informants into our midst to keep them posted on our next meeting places or line of action. Police really harassed us!

Later on, Uwazuruike came out of prison, on the deception that he was going to bury his mother but had struck/signed some deals and agreements with the Federal Government.

Information from his trusted men leaked to us that he (Uwazuruike) was settled as millions of Naira were transferred to his account from a lady's account whose name I have forgotten.

When he came back from prison, he started inviting us back asking us to go and bring people that would be kings, Eze-Mmuo in Biafra.

Uwazuruike told us that 'all these kings in Biafra now shall be replaced with the ones we would introduce who should be coming to meetings and making all contributions.

We started wondering, "what native doctors, sorcerers and soothsayers were coming to do amongst us since we're pursuing Biafra Actualization putting our  whole trust in God".

So being discouraged with that, we went back to NWC and liaised with Rochas Okorocha since he wanted to pursue his political carrier to national level. But we later found out that he was more tricky than others.

We continued pressing on, later on, NWC was changed to Biafra Central Council (BCC) which immediately started waxing strong.

Later on in the BCC, we found out that Nnamdi Ohiagu was tricking us and all the money we were contributing was nowhere to be found neither accounted for despite he swearing before all that he would not deceive us.

As we continued, later on, during the time of Pres. Goodluck Jonathan, Nnamdi Ohiagu (from Ikeduru, Imo state) changed BCC to Igbo Youth Cultural Organization.

We wondered how we would move Biafra agitation to Igbo agitation.

Nnamdi Ohiagu urged us that immediately we group ourselves as Igbo Youth Cultural Organization, we would use it to get funds from President Goodluck Jonathan to pursue Biafra struggle.
But we had the feeling that all those talks don't cross Imo state.

As that was going on we were asked to prepare, print  T-shirts to welcome Goodluck Jonathan because he was coming to visit us.

He eventually visited but we didn't understand anything that transpired.

Later on, they asked us to contribute money for an Abuja trip, that the president and the wife invited us to come.

We contributed and they went for the invitation and according to them, the president gave them a bus, and huge amount of money.

But what they claimed they were given (money and bus) we didn't see any.

At that point, coupled with other things I had passed through, I concluded that Uwazuruike and his accomplices actually opened business on the guise of Biafra Actualization, killing their fellow brothers for money and fame hence I decided to call it quits with Biafra under Uwazuruike or anyone connected to him.

Written by Ogu Edozie Williams
Edited by Mazi Collins
Published by IPOB writers
Follow on Twitter : @ipob_writers

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