The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), on Monday, warned pro-Biafra groups such the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to desist from including Ijaw territories in the map of Biafra, stressing that the Ijaw ethnic nationality never consented to be a part of Biafra.
Dismissing claims credited to pro-Biafra organizations that the Ijaw nation is part of Biafra, the IYC, in a statement signed by its spokesman, Daniel Dasimaka, said the Ijaw people have never been Biafrans.
The IYC said that the old eastern region of Nigeria was a political contraption that enslaved the Ijaw people, adding that it was created by those who also orchestrated "this miscarriage of a state called Nigeria."
The group noted that the Ijaws are not in any way against the genuine aspirations of all peoples, including the MASSOB and IPOB, to attain self-determination or secession, but they should not drag the Ijaw ethnic nationality into their geographical expressions.
“Ijaws are a distinct ethnic nation that has existed before the 1914 amalgamation and has its own dreams, wishes, and aspirations that should not be submerged as footnotes in any other peoples' struggles.
“We Ijaw people are not Biafrans. Therefore, if or when a Ijaw person or group feel a sense of allegiance to Biafra and speaks in its favor, let it be known that such statements are the personal opinions of such persons, which do not reflect the thoughts, views, and wishes of the entire Ijaw nation and the Niger Delta people,” the group’s statement read.
The IYC also warned "overzealous members of IPOB" to stop further insults on respected Ijaw elders and leaders, particularly critical stakeholders like Ann Kio Briggs, who had committed so much to the Niger Delta, stressing that such insults would no longer be tolerated.
“For the record, the Ijaw struggle for self-determination predates the Biafra agitation. It is a known historical fact that a year before the world got to hear of the term Biafra Republic, Ijaws, led by the late Major Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro of blessed memory, declared a Niger Delta Republic in pursuit of the emancipation of the Niger Delta people, which the progenitor of Biafra, late Col. Ojukwu of blessed memory, fought against as the then governor of the old eastern region.
"It is also on record that a year before MASSOB was founded, the IYC, through the Kaiama Declaration, affirmed ‘our commitment to joint struggle with the other ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta area for self-determination.'
“We express our solidarity with all peoples’ organizations and ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and elsewhere who are struggling for self-determination and justice," the IYC added.