Ahead of next Friday’s burial of the parents of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, there is palpable tension in his community, Afaraukwu, Abia State over the likely presence of soldiers.
This fear was mainly precipitated by an earlier visit of security agents to the community in Umuahia North Council Area of the state last Sunday.
No fewer than 100 soldiers in nine military vans and two Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, had visited the community.
Though the soldiers marched around the community and left some residents panicked.
They were at Bank Road and Factory Road, making people scampered to safety.
The entrance of the road leading to Eze Kanu’s Palace was blocked with their vans.
Irked by the development, IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, condemned what it described as an invasion of Afaraukwu community.
IPOB described it as a brazen display of military might.
Concerned by the likelihood of recurrence, Kanu’s younger brother, Emmanuel Kanu, said soldiers should stay away from the burial ceremonies and allow Afaraukwu community to bury its late monarch and his wife peacefully.
He said this while briefing newsmen in Umuahia.
His words: “We are doing all we can to ensure we have a peaceful burial. There was an invasion of the community by soldiers. The last incident happened on Sunday when soldiers in their hundreds came into the community and everybody was running helter-skelter. We are saying enough is enough because there is no war going on in Isiama Afaraukwu.
“Why this unnecessary invasion and we consider it an act of provocation? We are asking the Army to stay away from us and allow us to bury our late parents. They died as a result of Operation Python Dance. They should steer clear of this burial. They are aware we don’t carry guns. We don’t kill and we don’t ask anyone to kill for us.
“We assure them we will conduct a peaceful burial. My parents have paid the supreme price. I am making a clear call to the Nigerian government to avoid Isiama Afaraukwu during this burial. The Army should stay away from the burial.”
He, however, said soldiers did not invade any house and did not attack anybody when they visited the community.
Ndubueze explained that they patrolled the community and later left, stressing that it became a tradition for the soldiers to patrol the community ever since the Python Dance exercise took place.
He said: “What we are doing is a traditional burial. The entire Afaraukwu community wants a peaceful burial. We have been meeting with security agencies in the state. What we are doing is not an IPoB affair. We are only burying our late monarch and his wife. They should allow us to bury our dead. Afaraukwu is a peaceful community.
“Some people don’t want us to have a peaceful burial. All we want to do is to give our monarch and his wife a peaceful burial. The Commissioner of Police is our tenant, Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, lives in our community, the head of Immigration and other security chiefs live in our community. Even Abia State Government House is our tenant. They won’t be living in our community if we are not peaceful.”
He further warned against what he described as fake reports about the burial, stressing that such had created tension.
However, IPOB said no amount of intimidation and harassment would stop it from attending the burial.
“One thing is certain, on February 14, 2020, the parents of our leader will be laid to rest. The Nigerian Army and its supporters cannot stop IPOB from the burial. The Nigerian Army is wasting its time and valuable resources in trying to stop something they know they are incapable of stopping. Burial of the dead is a right older than man itself. Real soldiers fight wars, not innocent civilians preparing for burials,” the group said.