Biafra Day: Anxiety In SouthEast As IPOB, Ekpa’s Group Issue Conflicting ‘Orders’

Military, police dare separatist groups

Residents make frantic shopping ahead May 30

Fear and confusion have enveloped the South-East of Nigeria as two separatist groups, the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, headed by detained leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and Simon Ekpa’s Biafra Republic In Exile, BRGIE, issued conflicting directives on the sit-at-home to celebrate this year’s ‘Biafra Heroes Day’, plunging the region into a state of uncertainty.

This happened as the military and police authorities have issued stern warnings to the secessionists, daring them to carry out their threats. IPOB has been celebrating ‘Biafra Heroes Day’ on May 30 since 2017 to honor those who died during the Civil War. The day is usually marked by a stay-at-home order across the South-East.

This year is no exception as IPOB has asked everyone in Igboland to observe the day by staying at home and celebrating the men and women who died for them in the Civil War which started in 1967 and ended 1970.

Announcing the one-day stay-at-home order, IPOB, in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful, said: “Annually, we celebrate 30th of May as our heroes and heroines’ day when we remember the men and women who died that we may live, before, during, and after the Nigeria genocidal war against Biafrans between 1967 and 1970 and beyond and even until now.

“Biafrans are asked to observe this one (1) day sit-at-home in reverence to the spirits of our departed heroes who fought for us to be alive today…To that effect, IPOB directs all schools, government offices, private offices, banks, transport unions, market unions and private individuals to shut down all operations in honor of our heroes and heroines on Thursday, May 30, 2024.”

But BRGIE disagreed with IPOB on a date for sit-at-home. In a statement, the self-acclaimed Prime Minister of BRGIE, Simon Ekpa, stated that sit-at-home in the region would commence from May 29 to 31, 2024.

He said, “There will be sit-at-home in Biafraland on the following dates to enable Biafrans vote in the last phase of stage one self-referendum voting. 29th May, 2024, sit at home and vote; 30th May, 2024 Biafra Day, sit at home and vote; 31st May, 2024, sit at home and vote.”

As the two groups give confliction orders, citizens are left bewildered, unsure of who to obey, and fearful of the repercussions of making the wrong choice, setting the stage for a potentially explosive showdown.

Not even the assurances by the military and police that they are on top of the situation and that people should go about their lawful businesses could allay the fears of the masses. Rather, warnings by the security authorities to the Biafran groups are putting the already frightened people on the edge.


The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) had warned IPOB elements threatening to make May 30 another sit-at-home day not to dare the Armed Forces of Nigeria as it would decisively deal with any individual or group found to be enforcing sit-at-home order.

Director of Defence Media Operations, who said this in response to the threat by IPOB, stressed, “The days of IPOB sit-at-home are over. That statement is mere propaganda. We have decimated that group. Several of their senior commanders have been taken out. I assure you that people of the South-East have nothing to worry about”.

Recall that IPOB had warned the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State, Prof. Charles Esimone, and the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, to postpone the convocation ceremony of the university and WAEC’s Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) scheduled for May 30.

“If anything happens to those children, they want to bring out that day they will regret doing so. By this open letter, to you IPoB is calling on the Vice Chancellor and the Management of UNIZIK, Awka, WAEC and any other person or group that scheduled any program for 30th May, 2024, to postpone such program”, the group said in a statement.

“Biafra Heroes Day takes precedence over any program in Biafra land on that day. We do not take it kindly with people desecrating the memory of our heroes and heroines”.


Meanwhile, the management of the university has readjusted the date for her convocation ceremony.

Though it is believed that the rescheduling was as a result of IPOB warning, the institution, in a statement by Dr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, said: ”The reason for the rescheduling is because of the Federal Government’s appointment of new Governing Council members who will be inaugurated in Abuja on May 30, 2024.

“As the university management is expected to be present in the inauguration in Abuja, it was considered necessary and inevitable to adjust the convocation ceremony date to only May 31, 2024, for all activities of the 2024 18th convocation ceremony.”

Use of force

The police, on the other hand, also warned that they would not hesitate to use force to maintain law and order in the region. The Police Public Relations Officer in Ebonyi State, DSP Joshua Ukandu, said all the divisions that make up the Command have been alerted to provide adequate security for the citizens of the state.

“Already, the Command is on top of it. The Police will not relent in providing security for the citizens even on that day. We are going to massively deploy officers and men to make sure that people go about their normal and lawful businesses without  any fear of any sort of harassment”, Ukandu said.

Similarly, the police in Imo State said they were ready to protect lives and properties against any group attempting to force residents to sit at home on May 30. The state’s PPRO, Henry Okoye, stated: ”Our men are on ground. We have deployed adequate security measures so people should go about their lawful duties and disregard whatever comment by any group.”

The police in Anambra State, through their spokesman, Ikenga Tochukwu, similarly assured the people of adequate protection of lives and property, urging them to be law abiding and go about their businesses without fear of molestation.

However, Sunday Vanguard gathered that the police and other security agencies in Anambra have never obstructed or given any counter order concerning sit-at-home in the state. Findings further showed that police actions during such exercise have always been a joint patrol tagged, ‘Operation Show Your Force’.

Security agencies’ tough stance has raised the stakes, and many fear that any confrontation between the military and the separatist groups could lead to bloodshed and further destabilize the already tense region. The separatist groups, however, remain undeterred, with IPOB and BRGIE insisting that their orders must be obeyed.

Ekpa, the leader of BRGIE, has vowed to resist any attempt by the military to enforce their authority, while IPOB has accused government of trying to intimidate and silence them.

Fearing The worst

 As the standoff continues, many residents in the South-East are bracing themselves for the worst, fearing that the situation could escalate into full-blown violence. Reacting, Chief Ruben Emenike, a community leader in Ebonyi, kicked against any form of violence on that day.

“That day is sacrosanct. If you were there during the Nigeria-Biafra War, you will understand that a day like this is important”, he told Sunday Vanguard at the weekend. We have to come together and reflect about the past. What I do not support is the use of that May 30 to cause violence. You have to count me out of it. We have had enough of this ugly scenario, and it should be stopped.”

To a trader at Relief Market, Egbu Road, Owerri, Mrs Evelyn Okwu, “Biafra or no Biafra, what I want is to come to market and sell. I want to feed my children. We are hungry. They should give us food. Even in my shop, I remember Biafra but you cannot force me to stay at home.”

But a roadside vulcanizer along Owerri-Aba Road, who gave his name as Cashman, insisted that he would obey the IPOB’s directive. “I will be at home. I do not want these boys to come and shoot me. I want the security agencies to assure us that they will protect us. However, to remain safe, I will sit at home and watch”, he said.

Expectedly, residents across the geo-political zone are preparing and making arrangements for their families’ welfare ahead of the Biafra Remembrance Day. For example, traders in Onitsha markets, especially those dealing in consumables, are making huge sales even with the biting economic situation. The people are gathering all they need to ensure that they do not lack anything during the looming stay-at-home period.

Some of the residents, who spoke to our correspondent in Onitsha and Nnewi, said they usually spend the sit-at-home day in their villages and that informed the large quantity of food items they were buying in the markets.

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