Mere Anglicanism

Archbishop pleads for clemency for Biafran protesters

The Anglican Archbishop of Enugu has urged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to be lenient with protesters arrested in clashes with police following demonstrations for Biafran independence.

The Archbishop of Enugu, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma has urged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to be lenient with protesters arrested in clashes with police following demonstrations for Biafran independence. At a 14 Jan 2016 press conference, Archbishop Chukwuma said the Anglican church did not support calls for the independence of the Igbo tribal regions of Southeastern Nigeria, but nevertheless asked the government to grant the protestors clemency. “Agitation is nothing bad, but the Biafra agitation is misguided. We plead with the Federal Government not to see it as rebellion; on unity of Nigeria we stand, to keep Nigeria as one is a task that must be done.” At its independence the newly constituted Federal Republic of Nigeria was populated by three major tribes: the Igbo in the south East, the Yoruba in the West and Hausa/Fulani in the North, along with a further 250 ethnic and linguistic subgroups and tribes. The Igbo under the name Biafra, fought a secessionist war against Nigeria (1967-1970), but failed in its bid for independence. Archbishop Chukwuma told reporters on Thursday “the Igbo nation is not ready for any form of secession; our people have invested across the country; they have businesses here and there and all these cannot be wasted,” adding “Biafra agitation is not our priority now; all we ask for is equity and justice.” Over the past few months calls for Biafran independence have led to demonstrations in several cities in Igboland. The archbishop said these protests arose not from a desire for national self-determination but because of “frustration. Many [youthful protestors] have been used by politicians and dumped. There is no federal presence in Igbo land; that is the major problem.” President Buhari should “temper justice with mercy and forgive the shortcomings of our youths who are engaging in these protests.” However, the archbishop said the government should also take steps to alleviate the region’s chronic under-employment, poor roads, schools and healthcare. “We, therefore, plead with Mr. President, that since he said he was for nobody but for everybody, it should be translated into action. The poor state of infrastructure, including the power and agricultural sector should be addressed.”

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