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Friday, July 8, 2016

Biafra’s secessionist right revisited

By Muhammed Adamu
~Vanguard Nigeria. Thursday, July 7, 2016.

"Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy" -Abraham Lincoln

Is a Union sacred and inviolable?

Whether a constitutionally governed nation is to exist in perpetuity, sacred and inviolable even by the existential realities of irredeemable socio-cultural fault lines, is a matter for the conjecture of the jurisprudence of law and of morality. The question being: should a democratic society be presumed immune -legally-speaking or morally so- even from the rumbling dissent of self-determined minorities bent on opting out of the union?

Or put another way: does a part of a constitutionally governed nation- whether it be a state or a section comprising of states- have a right to unilaterally seek, by whatever means, to opt out of that union and to form another? Or the converse of that may be asked: should a President in a constitutionally governed society be constrained by law or morality -or by both- to allow a part secede from the territory he is legally elected to govern?

Will he be obligated -by the Constitution or by the unwritten universal laws of nature, or by both- to fight to keep the union for which he was inaugurated into office to preserve, protect and defend?

These questions have continued to agitate the minds of jurists and of political scientists and there does not seem to be a single jurisprudential solution to the question of ethnic or other classes of minorities and their presumed right to self-determination or their duty of fidelity to an existing statehood to which they are fated by the circumstances of socio-political history to belong.

Willful self-assertion

Yet proponents of the 'right' of 'might' to willful self-assertion say that any minority section of a constitutionally governed nation can secede from an existing state it no longer desires to be part of, -if not by a constitutional process, at the very worst by 'force'.

Or is 'Might' the only 'Right'? Provided a seceding minority has the 'will', the 'grit' and the 'fighting power' to force its way out of the union; and provided thereafter it has the 'might' to defend its new sovereignty, -either against the revolting anger of un-yielding irredentists or against potentially emergent new rebellions from its very own.

But the reverse is also the case, that even as a MINORITY section of a democratic entity has recourse to the moral justification of the use of force to assert the inalienable right to self-determination, so does a democratic MAJORITY of a constitutionally governed nation have legitimate recourse to the use of force -if it can- to preserve the union. Thus, in actual fact the question of who is right between the majority fighting to preserve the union and the minority fighting to opt out of it, will simply be located in who is able to assert both 'will' and 'firepower' and not necessarily in who has the moral justification to so to do.

It can thus be seen that any argument by an existing political order in favour of the 'right' -legally or morally- to preserve a union is always concurrent with the arrogation by it of the 'right' to deny the seceding party its presumed 'right' to opt out of the union. And the reverse is equally the case, that secessionists, in arrogating to themselves the presumed 'right' to willful self-determination, also tend to deny the 'right' of the existing political order to fulfill its constitutional obligation of preserving, protecting and defending the union.

And so going by the doctrine of the 'right' of 'might' to forceful secession, it can be said that for the agitators of Biafra to secede from Nigeria, the section that they purport to agitate for -namely the South-East- must not only be able to outgun, or at the very least match the fire power of the existing political order, it must be able, permanently, to sustain and enforce its breakaway.

But going by the logic of those who insist that in all circumstances only 'right' should be 'might', no minority section of a constitutionally governed nation has the right to force its way out of a legal union except by the leave of the majority in that union through the due process of law and not on the sentiments of moral considerations.

The Lincoln perspective

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United State of America provided an excellent jurisprudential justification for the use of force to suppress any rumbling of undemocratic dissent that has secession as its ultimate goal. According to that perspective no democratic minority has a right under the law to secede from a union consecrated by the Constitution.

Lincoln came into office in 1861 by less than 40% of the popular vote and the advent of a republican administration had already created apprehension in some of the Southern states who feared the new President might interfere with the institution of slavery -which had existed in those states. In fact weeks before Lincoln's inauguration seven of those states had already threatened to secede from the 72-year old Union. This was in spite of the fact that there was proof that although Lincoln opposed the extension of slavery into western territories, he did not favour abolition either in those states where it existed.

It was therefore clear that the secessionists had ulterior motives and were thus not to be pacified but confronted. And so Lincoln in his inaugural speech was to inform a shaky nation with a divided army that he was 'prepared to fight a war to maintain the Union'. His argument being that 'the right of a 'democratic minority' for self-determination cannot be exercised in override of the right of a 'democratic majority' which is constitutionally legitimated to preserve and to protect the Union.

The Right of ‘Way’ and the Right of ‘Say’: Lincoln, by the way, did not derogate the right of the 'minority' to dissent -including its so called presumed right to seek to dismember the Union in order to create its own; but he said that the exercise of that delicate species of fundamental right was essentially lower in the hierarchy of rights than the right of a 'democratic majority' to preserve the union.

Thus side by side with the right of a 'democratic majority', the right of a 'democratic minority' in any constitutional democracy cannot and has never been any higher than the passive extent allowed to it in the axiom which posits that 'the minority has only a say and the majority a way'.

Constitutional checks and limitations

Said Lincoln in his Inaugural speech: "A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations ... is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism".

Nothing can be more rational; especially given the systemic, concept-driven nature of today's organised societies whereby people have chosen, strictly to live by the principle of the rule of the 'majority'. To what avail will that principle of 'majority rule' be if any 'minority' component of a constitutional democracy, at any time, and outside of the due democratic process, can choose to terminate the Union or to permanently alter and impair its constitutionally-prescribed configuration?

President Lincoln had also used the 'doctrine of perpetuity' to advance the argument that "in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution" the Union of the states that made up the United States was "perpetual"; and that, that 'perpetuity' was necessarily implied even though it was not expressly stated "in the fundamental law of all national governments".

And to that extent Lincoln felt justified and constitutionally legitimated to say to the secessionists of his days "no state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union"! Said German Philosopher and social theorists Jurgen Habermas, "Being bound to the constitutional achievements and ideals of their predecessors, future generations (in any state) remain un-free; for they are denied the opportunity to found their own constitution".

An oath registered in Heaven’: And although the Constitution, as Lincoln posited "contained no prohibition of secession or enforcement language to preserve the Union", it did -like all other democratic constitutions- specify an oath of office mandating the President "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution". And if so, what can be more deserving of the President's 'preservation', 'protection' and 'defense' -in a constitutional democracy- than the territorial integrity of the State?

And thus said experts that in the true interpretation of 'sovereign power', "since the people had not vested the President with the authority to fix the terms of separation", Lincoln was right to make "war the inevitable consequence of secession" and to declare himself "constitutionally unable to stop it". And as Lincoln himself eloquently said, whereas the secessionists had "no oath registered in heaven to destroy" the union, he as President had "the most solemn one to 'preserve', 'protect' and 'defend it'."

The Lincoln inaugural speech was the same in which he made the famous statement "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." The phrase 'the people' without doubt referred to the 'majority' -and not a 'minority' of it.

Peaceful referendum

A minority can only hope to court the understanding and cooperation of the 'majority' to cause the necessary due democratic processes, which may lead to a peaceful referendum. But since according to Lincoln, "Unanimity" on the one hand "is impossible" and "the rule of a minority" on the other "is wholly inadmissible", anarchy or despotism -as he warned- would be "all that is left" if the rule of a 'democratic majority' was rejected.

Said Lincoln, even in the hypothetical scenario that the United States were 'not a government proper' but merely an association of states in the nature of 'contract', that contract could not be "peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it"; because, as he asked hypothetically, whereas "One party to a contract may violate (or)... break it, does it not require 'all' to lawfully rescind it?"


The right of the Igbo 'minority' or any other 'minority' for that matter, to secede from a constitutionally governed Nigeria must be located in the complex hyacinth of these jurisprudential argument. And in all honesty it is a right concurrent with -if not inferior to- the right of the democratic 'majority' to deny.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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