IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful, released a statement warning the governors of the region that they had outlived their usefulness and if the Nigerian army kills any IPOB protesters, then the governors and their families would not be spared. The activists are threatening to break up a summit that will decide the fate of the Biafra region for the next 100 years.

What is Biafra?

Biafra is an oil-rich region in southern Nigeria inhabited by the Igbo ethnic minority, who fought a secessionist war in the 60s. The war started because of instability stemming from the decolonization process and the persecution of Igbo peoples in the north.

There were around 100,000 military casualties during the war, but a government-imposed famine killed nearly 2 million Igbo people.

The region is currently governed by politicians with close ties to the north and Igbo elders who are opposed to more conflict with the national government, but a new generation has renewed calls for an independent state. Due to its massive natural wealth, the Nigerian government is unlikely to ever relinquish control, causing the IPOB to resort to more aggressive tactics. In 2017 a peaceful protest was disrupted by Nigerian soldiers firing into the crowd, killing 150 protesters. Since then, rhetoric has been increasingly violent from the Igbo nationalists, who view the acts of aggression as an invitation to another war.

The summit

The summit in question is being held in Enugu between Igbo elders and military officials about the future of power in the region. IPOB protesters see it as a power grab by the northern ethnic tribes and an overreach by the federal government. They have vowed to send in protesters to physically prohibit the conference, saying that any such agreement to enslave the Igbo youth won't be tolerated.

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Igbo youth are suspected to have broken up similar talks in Enugu just last month.

Powers said in her statement that if any of the protesters were killed, then the governors of the region and their families will meet the same fate. As reported by Vanguard Nigeria, Secretary Powers also said the IPOB was willing to meet with government officials to discuss a regional referendum on independence, but not on any restructuring measures.

Executions

Amnesty International reports that the youth activists are being killed without a day in court for being a member of the IPOB. Many leaders were taken from their home in the night before a planned protest May 30th, 2016, and many more were abducted on their way to work. The protests went ahead as scheduled in multiple locations and around 60 protesters were killed by police forces. The wife of a prominent activist, who wished to stay anonymous, told AI that her husband had called her that day and she listened as he was murdered in his vehicle. Some protesters reported being subjected to acid attacks by the soldiers.