On Wednesday, June 20 which was World Refugee Day, displaced people from different African nations gathered at the premises of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Cotonou Benin Republic. Some of these people were from Congo DRC, Sierra-Leone, Rwanda, Togo, Mali, Biafra and Cote d’Ivoire. Surprisingly, the Biafrans possessed not only National ID cards but also passports. These other nationals expressed great respect and solidarity for Biafrans.
Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970. The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. The creation of the new country was among the complex causes for the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War.
Land of the Rising Sun was chosen for Biafra’s national anthem, and the state was formally recognised by Gabon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Zambia. Other nations which did not give official recognition but which did provide support and assistance to Biafra included Israel, France, Portugal, Rhodesia, South Africa and the Vatican City. Biafra also received aid from non-state actors, including Joint Church Aid, Holy Ghost Fathers of Ireland, Caritas International, MarkPress and U.S. Catholic Relief Services.
After two-and-a-half years of war, during which over four million civilians had died in fighting and from famine, Biafran forces agreed to a ceasefire with the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG), and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.
Today, a number of groups have reorganised and are agitating for the actualisation of Biafra. Some of these groups include Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Biafran Revolutionary Uprising (BRU), Biafran Liberation Council (BLC), Biafran Nation (BN), among others.
Their arguments are that Nigeria has not been fair to Igbos, who are in every nook and cranny of Nigeria doing business and developing the nation. Unlike the violent Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria, these groups have refused to use violence in pursuing their objectives, insisting on dialogue.