The struggle for independence from Nigeria remains a poignant chapter in the history of the Igbo people, a South-Eastern Nigerian ethnic group. The dream of establishing an independent state in Biafra has persisted since the days of British colonialism. It culminated in a civil war in 1967 when the Igbo declared independence in southeastern Nigeria, forming the Republic of Biafra.
However, the war did not lead to the desired outcome. The federal army defeated the Biafran forces, leading to the surrender of Biafra in 1970. After the conflict, the Igbo people faced exclusion from vital government and military roles. The deep-seated separatist sentiment continued to simmer in southeastern Nigeria, with ongoing tensions between the northern and southern states, driven by ethnic and religious differences.
The emergence of separatist groups, including the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (Massob) in 1999 and the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) in 2012, further complicated the situation. While these groups advocate non-violent policies to achieve a referendum on Biafra’s independence, the Nigerian government has accused them of violence and labeled Ipob a terrorist organization.
Reports from various sources have documented serious incidents of violence and human rights violations, including killings, injuries, and arrests of Ipob and Massob members and supporters during non-violent gatherings. While investigations have been initiated, concerns about a lack of proper inquiry into these incidents persist.
The situation in Nigeria remains precarious, and those who actively support the separatist project are exposed to persecution and harsh treatment, making the quest for Biafran independence an ongoing and complex struggle.