Nigeria Foreign Affairs Minister


The Question Of Biafra Independence Explained
Agitation for an independent state of Biafra is “detrimental to the peace, unity, stability and development” of Nigeria, its foreign ministry said in a statement critical of a recent report by Amnesty International.

In its 2016/17 report released in February, Amnesty International condemned the Nigerian military and police for alleged unlawful killings of pro-Biafra activists. The human rights organization said that security forces had arrested and killed at least 150 supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group since January 2016.

In its statement published on Saturday, the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that pro-Biafra protests were “unacceptable” and that the Amnesty report “lacked conformity to both local and international standards on evidence gathering.”

The Nigerian military has previously denied using excessive force against IPOB supporters and has accused pro-Biafra activists of stoking violence.

Biafra existed as an independent republic in eastern Nigeria between 1967 and 1970, following its annexation by an ex-Nigerian military officer, Odumegwu Ojukwu, in 1967. It was reintegrated into Nigeria in 1970 following a three-year civil war, in which more than 1 million people died.

Pro-Biafra sentiment has increased in recent years, particularly following the arrest of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu in October 2015 in Lagos. Kanu is facing charges of treasonable felony and his trial has been delayed several times.

The head of communications at Amnesty International Nigeria, Isa Sanusi, says that the organization “always engages all stakeholders” when compiling its reports. “We send letters to the military telling them about our findings and asking them to respond,” says Sanusi in a statement emailed to Newsweek. “[The] Nigerian government and the military always respond to our reports with denials, which is not helping matters in the effort to protect human rights in the country.”

According to Amnesty, Nigerian security forces clashed with IPOB members on several occasions, particularly in February and May 2016. In the February incident, security forces shot at around 200 pro-Biafra activists gathered for a prayer meeting in Abia state; at least 17 people were killed. In May, security forces killed at least 60 people during a raid on a gathering to celebrate Biafra Remembrance Day in Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria, Amnesty claims.

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