Wife of former Biafran warlord, Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, has reiterated the call for release of Leader of Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who a competent court of jurisdiction have declared free.
Ojukwu’s widow made the call during her keynote address at the Annual National Conference and Convention of the American Veterans of Igbo Descent (AVID) in Dallas,Texas, United States of America (USA).
The keynote address in the event, which took place between Aug.19 and Aug. 20, was released to newsmen in Enugu on Tuesday.
AVID is a congregation of American citizens, both men and women of Igbo extraction who are currently serving military officers and veterans who have served honourably in various branches of the United States Military at different times, different conflicts and different theatres of war.
Ojukwu maintained that “it is only when the leaders in Igboland rise up, jettison their perceived conspiracy of silence and confront the truth will there be the slightest possibility of healing and recovery from the unfortunate condition which Igboland currently finds itself in”.
According to her, the onerous task of confronting the Leviathan can only start when we come to terms with the fact that it is the neglect of the leadership in Igboland to effectively highlight and address the blatant marginalization of Ndigbo through the years.
Ojukwu, who is former Nigeria Ambassador to Spain, said: “This majorly created the vacuum which led to the emergence of Nnamdi Kanu, and then proceed to make the necessary amends.”
She called for greater synergy among the governors of the South-East and urging them to continue to intensify efforts towards the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The former ambassador noted that their (Igbo leaders) initial nonchalant attitude towards his (Kanu) illegal rendition and continued unlawful incarceration contributed greatly towards inflaming the tensions within the South-East region today.
Ojukwu, who was the special guest at the event, said: “this nonchalant attitude also brought about the unforeseen consequences of opportunistic criminal elements not even remotely connected with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) coming into the picture.
“Today, they (opportunistic criminal elements) are masquerading as freedom fighters to perpetuate the most heinous crimes in South Eastern Nigeria,” she said.
In a presentation, Amb. Jean Pillard, Haiti’s former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, who went down memory lane, recalled with emotions the sojourn of the Igbos through the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to Haiti.
Pillard noted that in the midst of Haiti’s darkest times, the Igbos contributed their strength and courage to the struggle for freedom against an adversary, none other than Napoleon Bonaparte.
“Napoleon Bonaparte (who had defeated so many armies in Europe); but the Igbos in Haiti got united to impose an amazing defeat on Napoleon and the mighty French army,” he said.
The President of AVID, Dr Sylvester Onyia, a US veteran, restated the resolve and commitment of the organisation towards a safe, prosperous and peaceful Alaigbo (Igboland), their homeland of origin.
Onyia said that the continued detention of Kanu in spite of his ordered release by the courts was of grave concern to the organization.
He stressed the fact that Ndigbo are currently anxious about the inability of the Federal Government to secure their lives, properties and investments in their states of residence and business in other parts of the country.
He also expressed the organization’s concerns about the current hardships being experienced by Nigerians as a whole, and the marginalisation and insecurity in Igboland that had been exacerbated by seemingly insensitive government with the implementation of anti-people policies.
“These have caused nothing but suffering and a heightened sense of hopelessness among the people,” the leader of AVID said.
Several speakers including diplomats and government officials made presentations at the conference which featured award presentations to deserving officers, music and cultural presentations.
There was also fundraising activities for the organization’s ongoing project for the provision of solar powered boreholes to provide potable clean water for schools and local clinics in South Eastern communities.
The event witnessed the convergence of AVID associates as well as other attendees who came in from other parts of the United States and Nigeria.