Leaders and members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra in the South-East have been holding secret meetings to avoid arrest by the military and other security agancies in the region.
The leaders also asked their members to wear black on Sunday (today) to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day.
It was observed that the IPOB members in the region resorted to low-profile lifestyles since the whereabouts of their leader became unknown.
It was learnt that there were no signs of IPOB activities either in form of meetings, or procession anywhere across the 13 local government areas of Ebonyi since the group was proscribed.
Investigations also showed that car owners, commercial motorists, especially tricycle riders in the state capital, Abakaliki, have removed all the pro Biafra insignias pasted on their vehicles and tricycles.
When newsmen visited Wetheral Road, Fire service junction in Owerri, the Imo State capital, neither the insignias nor the traders who usually sold the items were seen.
A newspaper vendor who spoke on the condition of anonymity said traders stopped selling the Biafran insignias out of fear of being harassed by the soldiers.
He said, “You know that there is Operation Python Dance in the South-East and IPOB members are having problems with the soldiers. So, out of fear of harassment by soldiers, the traders have stopped the sale of Biafra insignias for now.”
A tricycle operator said that he removed the Biafran flag from his tricycle because he did not want to be beaten by the soldiers.
A leader of the group in Owerri, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he held regular meetings with his members in secret.
He said, “We hold our meetings in school halls or church premises without displaying any items that can be used to identify us as IPOB members.”
In a telephone interview, the Coordinator of IPOB in Ebonyi State, Ugochukwu Nweke, said the group had designated October 1 (today) to mourn the killing of its members during the military onslaught of their leader’s home.
On whether IPOB would celebrate the Independence Day, Nweke queried the essence of such celebration.
He said, “Which country’s independence are we celebrating? God never created us and called us Nigeria. God created countries and gave them their own separate names. We are Biafrans and we are not participating in anything called Nigeria’s independence.
“On October 1, we are not gathering anywhere.People have been advised to go about their normal business or stay in their homes. Every body should wear black.
“We are mourning our loved ones. They invaded our houses and killed some of us. Even now they are still hunting and killing our people. They call themselves Operation Python Dance.”
A former Minister of Aviation, who is also contesting the Anambra State governorship on the platform of United Progressive Party, Osita Chidoka, on Saturday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to lift the proscription order on IPOB.
Chidoka stated this during the inauguration of his governorship campaign at Amoka in Ihiala Local Government Area of the state.
He described the proscription of IPOB as unnecessary.
He said the Igbo had no trace of terrorism in their history, adding that self-determination was a fundamental right.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has denied receipt of any inquiry about the status and whereabouts of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu from the United Kingdom.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said he had no record of such inquiry from the British government. “No request received,” he said via an SMS on Saturday.
The UK High Commission had said that it was seeking from Nigeria, clarifications about Kanu’s status and whereabouts.
Its spokesperson, Joe Abuku, said the UK was seeking the clarification, about Kanu’s whereabouts.
“We are seeking urgent clarification from the Nigerian authorities about the status and whereabouts of Mr. Kanu, a British-Nigerian man, who has been reported missing since 14 September,” he had stated in an email.