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The Indigenous People of Biafra to begin weekly lockdowns in Nigeria


The Indigenous People of Biafra to begin weekly lockdowns in Nigeria

Photo: Stringer/Reuters

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) separatist group is set to begin weekly one-day “lockdowns” in Nigeria’s south-eastern region tomorrow if the federal government does not release its leader Nnamdi Kandu from custody.

Nigeria deems IPOB a terrorist group. Authorities re-arrested Kandu in June and charged him with treason after being on the run since absconding from bail regarding earlier treason charges in 2017. Biafra—formerly Nigeria’s Eastern region in the 1960s and heartland of the Igbo minority ethnic group—was defeated in the Nigerian civil war after unsuccessfully attempting to secede from the country.

The chances of Kandu receiving bail this time are remote given his jumping bail in 2017. Kandu’s trial is set to resume on October 21 but further adjournments will likely escalate IPOB civil disobedience and protests. This likely includes extending lockdowns to more days per week. However, the predominantly Igbo state governments oppose such actions as it threatens several major construction projects in the region.

Expect President Muhammad Buhari to continue Abuja’s hard-line crackdown on IPOB coupled with ongoing infrastructure projects in the South-East. However, if he escalates his rhetoric and security operations in the region, it may push more grassroots support towards IPOB lockdowns.

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