Thousands of people calling for the breakaway of the Biafran territories from Nigeria are to start a "stay-at-home" protest over the prolonged detention of their leader Nnamdi Kanu. A pro-Biafran protester told IBTimes UK schools and businesses will be closed in several states across what he defined as "Biafraland", referring to the contested territories in southeastern Nigeria.
The protest is the last of a long list of rallies pro-Biafrans have been carrying out in Nigeria and abroad since their leader was arrested in Lagos in October 2015.
Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) and director of Radio Biafra, was arrested on conspiracy and terrorism charges, which were later dropped.
The Abuja High Court initially ruled in favour of granting bail to Kanu. However, President Muhammadu Buhari said in December 2015 that the Ipob leader would not be released amid fears he could jump bail and flee to the UK, as he holds both a British and a Nigerian passport.
The planned protest became a source of concern for the Anglican Church of Nigeria, which abruptly ended its five-day-long conference in Awka, capital of Anambra state, on Wednesday (21 September). The meeting was scheduled to end on 23 September, but the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh cited security concerns for the abrupt interruption of the event.
He was quoted by the Vanguard newspaper as saying: "Ipob threatened to shut down markets and other institutions and restrict movement in the entire south east. We are not delving into the reasons for their agitation, but we are asking them to wait until we leave Awka on Friday. If they go ahead to carry out that order, we may be trapped in Anambra as the Niger Bridge is the only exit route from Anambra state for most of the bishops. So, people should help us beg them to allow us to go."
However, Ipob said it would carry on with the planned protest. Earlier this month, at least 12 Ipob members were arrested in connection with the planned protest, local media reported.
Nigerian government's position on Biafra
A Biafran Republic was established in 1967 but re-annexed to Nigeria in 1970, following a bloody civil war that claimed millions of lives. Calls for a breakaway have continued since.
The Nigerian government has always maintained that Nigeria's unity was a priority for the country and, that although peaceful pro-Biafran protests were welcome, demanding the breakaway of the Biafran territories went against the constitution.
The NGO published another report in June urging the Nigerian government to conduct an independent investigation on alleged killings of pro-Biafrans on 29 and 30 May 2016.