MEMBERS of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) have warned the Nigerian Army to stay away from the Afaraukwu community in Umuahia North Local Government Area next Friday when they bury the parents of their leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Currently on self-imposed exile after jumping bail and fleeing from Nigeria in November 2017, Mazi Kanu is facing several charges including treason and faces a lengthy jail term if he ever sets foot in Nigeria. However, over the recent months, the Ipob leader has lost both of his parents and he has vowed to return to Nigeria to bury them on Friday February 14 at Afaraukwu, near Umuahia, the Abia State capital.
Mazi Kanu’s father His Royal Highness Eze Israel Okwu Kanu, was the local traditional ruler, so the burial of him and his wife Ugoeze Meme Sally Kanu, will be a grand affair. However, it is due to lead to a big showdown between Ipob and the Nigerian state as the secessionist group has warned military personnel not to come anywhere near the venue.
In turn, the local Afaraukwu community has declared Ipob personae non gratae, warning it to steer clear of the event. Chief Ikechukwu Ndubueze, the president-general of Afaraukwu community, said all they want is a peaceful burial for their late monarch and his wife.
He added: “What we are doing is a traditional burial, the entire Afaraukwu community wants a peaceful burial. We have been meeting with the security agencies in the state and what we are doing is not an Ipob affair, we are only burying our late monarch and his wife. They should allow us bury our dead because Afaraukwu is a peaceful community.
“Some people don’t want us to have a peaceful burial but all we want to do is to give our monarch and his wife a peaceful burial. The police commissioner is our tenant, the head of immigration and other security chiefs live in our community and even the Abia State government house is our tenant and they won’t be living in our community if we are not peaceful.”
Mazi Kanu’s bother Emmanuel Kanu, has also urged the Nigerian Army to stay away from the burial and allow the community bury their late monarch and his wife in a peaceful manner. Igboayaka Igboayaka, the national president of Ohanaeze Youth Council, added that it is unacceptable for President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy soldiers to the peaceful Afaraukwu community at a time when terrorists are killing Nigerians in the northeast.
Local residents have expressed fears of a possible clash between Ipob members and security agents on Friday. Prince Emmanuel Kanu said the family only wanted to conduct a peaceful burial for their parents and queried the rationale for the recent deployment of troops to the community.