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Why IPOB split into Kanu, Dokubo factions


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IN the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, several groups are seeking the actualisation of a nation called Biafra. The frontrunner of these groups is the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Nnamdi Kanu.

IPOB has emerged as a powerful force, founding an online radio and winning the hearts of many Igbo-speaking people in Nigeria and abroad. However, there are cracks in IPOB’s wall as a splinter group has emerged.

The splinter group, called Biafra Customary Government, is led by Asari Dokuba, an activist for the Niger Delta and Uche Mefor, a former deputy leader of IPOB. But why did IPOB split?

SB Morgan, an organisation focused on geopolitical research and strategic communications consulting firm focused around Africa, explains the reasons in a report titled ‘Discord at Sunrise: What does Split in IPOB mean?’

During the inauguration of Dokubo, Ralph Uwazuruike, founder of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), another prominent group agitating for a Biafran state, was present at the venue. However, as expected, Kanu was absent, the report says.

Before the resignation of Mefor from IPOB, a faction in the United Kingdom had demanded a financial account of the funds raised for the organisation, an action that did not go well with Kanu, SB Morgan notes.

Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu

In response to the demand, Kanu abolished the position of deputy leader being held by Mefor and subsequently scrapped the UK IPOB faction, which was loyal to the latter.

Apart from the conflict that arose from lack of  financial accountability, Mefor and his loyalists were reported to be against the ‘violent approach’ of the Kanu- led IPOB, which had led to a various crisis between the Nigerian military and Eastern Security Network (a subsection of IPOB in Eastern Nigeria), the report further says.

At least two violent disputes have occurred between the Nigerian military and the ESN in 2021 that left people dead in Orlu  Local Government Area of Imo State.

While the military claimed four soldiers were killed, the ESN said that several of its members were killed, leading to the closure of some schools and markets in Imo State.

Can Mefor-Dokubo synergy work?

Having crippled an organised loyalty to Mefor, Kanu sought the support of Dokubo, who is from the South-South region of the country, where some have reportedly distanced themselves from collaborating with the Igbo who they say are in the majority.

Asari Dokubo
File Photo

“Kanu, uncharacteristically, has not mentioned Mr Mefor’s name since the fallout between them happened last year but constantly attacks Asari Dokubo and Mr Uwazuruike during his broadcasts. It remains to be seen how he will respond to this new movement headed by people he considers enemies,” the SB Morgan report says.

“IPOB at the moment is seriously fractured, with many erstwhile key members now either with Mr Mefor or charting their own course. Mr Kanu is presently believed to be operating out of the United States, where a new bank account was recently unveiled, ostensibly to collect contributions for ESN,” it adds.

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SB Morgan report concludes that the major challenge of the Dokubo – Mefor alliance will be to work out a mutually beneficial narrative that could suit both the South-East and South-South, following the injustices allegedly suffered by the people of South-South in the hands of Biafran soldiers some 50 years ago.

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