Our fight for Biafra was not to breakaway from Nigeria – Col Joe Achuzia


Biafran warlord and Secretary-General of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, world-wide, Col Joe Achuzia,  retd, has again lent out his voice in the ongoing agitation for Biafran restoration.

Col Joe Achuzia

In an interview with Vanguard, he demanded that he, as a person, should be addressed as “a Biafran” as that reflects his true identity.

He however clarified that the struggle by the pro-Biafran groups especially the IPOB is not targeted towards pulling out of Nigeria but the name Biafra is for proclamation as an identity.


Can you say that the Igbo leaders are helping matters in the quest towards advancing the Igbo cause? 

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You see people tend to forget the paradox about the Igbo. The word Igbo is not a tribal identity, it is linguistic identity. It is a language of a people collectively residing in the eastern region that used to be known as Southern Sudan.

From the 14th, 15th, 16th century, the area was known as Southern Sudan. That is where the people known as Biafrans lived, hence the Bight of Biafra. There would never have been a Bight of Biafra if there were no inhabitants occupying the mainland.

I’m not here pleading a cause for Biafra. No, I’m only taking you to historical antecedents. You asked a question about the so called Igbo leaders. There are two types of Igbo leaders – Igbo political leaders who professed to be Igbo by residing in certain rural areas in the south east of the country and by accumulation of wealth, imposed themselves on the people as their leaders.

They have all the sophistication of political activities, while the indigenes because of poverty imposed by the activities of the civil war were unable to elevate themselves to the level required by the new masters. These were the people that impose themselves as leaders of Igbo.

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In our language, it says ‘ebo nwe nwunye nzo, nwunye nzo mala onye nwe anyi’, meaning that the community knows their wife or leader and the wife and the true leaders know the people who appointed them. Unfortunately, what we have is the Pharaoh that does not know Joseph. Some of the so-called leaders of Ndigbo even up to date are those whose wealth are questionable.

Yet unfortunately, it is only wealth that decides who becomes a leader of a people that goes for activities of government.

You said you are not pleading the cause of Biafra, so what are all the agitations going on by pro-Biafran groups or are the agitations misplaced as government is accusing them of planning secession? 

No, we fought for survival. Biafra never fought or did not attempt to break away from the Lugardian set up known as Nigeria. No! We, from the south east fought to prevent us from being exterminated in an effort to push us out of the federation. That we remembered out past, the thought came to our succour because when a people are under pressure of extermination, history comes to their assistance.

How did our forefathers survive under the pressure that we had at the time from colonial masters? How did they survive? They survived by recollecting who they were and pulled together, hence the mark on our faces.

Those marks differentiate the people who are Biafrans. Each community has a peculiar mark even though nowadays, we don’t do it anymore but it is engraved in our heart. And that is why we resolved that we cannot fight individually as Nigeria wanted us then. We had to fight collectively as Biafrans. Biafra wasn’t coined to break up Nigeria, no.

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What is the way out for the Igbo ? 

The way out is quite simple. The whole world is now a global village. Part of the north had already established themselves not only in our present day Nigeria but throughout the world whereby they set up what they called Hausa BBC linguistic dissemination of information.

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Everything is said in Hausa whereby people from our area, from the Biafran area do not even understand what is being disseminated . We feel that we are equally entitled to that.

But to tell us that the name Biafra be expunged from the lexicon of Nigeria while it remains in the lexicon of the world, we will not agree because that is denying us of our fundamental human right. We have a right to answer whatever name we feel is indigenous to us . Nigeria is not indigenous to us.

But the Federal Government says the name Biafra is illegal.

The Federal Government cannot decide what is legal or illegal for us, hence we have gone to the court. Let the court decide for us.

The court should tell us whether as a people, we have a right to answer whatever name we want. We are not fighting the FG over piece of land or territory or anything. We are claiming what is our right. For me, if you ask me, ‘where do you come from’, I will say I come from Biafra. There is Biafra in Nigeria here if we must retain the name Nigeria for corporate existence

How can it be achieved because the group of pro-Biafran agitators are being labeled as secessionists with Nnamdi Kanu and others being dragged to court over alleged treasonable offence? 

There is no treason. Treason in what? Treason presupposes an attempt to upset a legitimate government. All they are saying and I repeat, these are children born and brought up during the war when their parents were going under the name Biafra.

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For survival, because of what their parents faced, their parents therefore parceled them with a tag on the neck, and clothing. These are Biafran children, please accept them, look after them so that they might survive us. They are the remnants of the survivors of Biafra.

I said in the past that the seed that was sown at that point in time when Federal Government wanted to push the South-East out of the federation, the seed of Biafra was sown. It has germinated. It is now a full grown tree. You cannot just uproot it. You have ways of accommodating us.

The Federal Government is trying to uproot it by force but we say no, let us avail ourselves with legal opportunities. We are supposed to have independence of judiciary but we are afraid and it is now being subjected to the same brutish force that seemed to wreck the economy of Nigeria.

From our own point of view, we remnants of Biafra are seeking judicial intervention or call it judicial translation, we want to know the stand of the judiciary over our claim that we have a right to answer any name that we feel and that the Federal Government has no right to deny us  our human right to a name because we have a right to reject any name that the Federal Government might want to impose on us and that led to an unpleasant standoff position which we don’t want.

Full interview published on Vanguard


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