Professor Ivan Sheehan’s opinion piece published in the October 4, 2021 edition of the Washington Times and entitled “U.S. Ignores Small African Terrorist Group, IPOB at its peril” was a travesty that could endanger the lives of over 50 million Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria.
The piece was wrong and offensive in its entirety because Professor Sheehan did not present any truth that will help the world assess and evaluate the security situation in Nigeria. This has the danger of encouraging the Nigerian government to continue its raging onslaught against the defenseless indigenous people of the Middlebelt and southern Nigeria (Including Biafra), who are mostly Christians.
It was dangerous because Professor Sheehan wants to shield from world view the genocide that is taking place against these indigenous people of the Middlebelt and southern Nigerian being systematically carried out by ISIS backed Boko Haram and armed Fulani Herdsmen
Equally dangerous to American interests and Homeland Security in that it shields the growing reality of the entire West African region becoming the new epicenter of Islamic Terrorism just on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean from the US.
WIC is a Texas Corporation that caters to the interests of the Igbo of southeastern Nigeria who, due to the inclement political and security circumstances in Nigeria, live or have taken asylum in the US and other parts of the world. Igbo people number over 50 million and their ancestral home is part of the territory where IPOB and ESN function to ameliorate the unfolding genocide. The same Igbo people suffered a pogrom that claimed 30,000 lives in 1966 and a war that claimed over 3 million people in 1967/1970. Biafrans are the victims of the unfolding ethnic cleansing that the world needs to be aware of. Biafrans are the victims in the ongoing “shoot-at-sight” order issued by the rouge Nigeria government and being executed by Boko Haram in the Nigerian military and police uniforms. Biafrans are the same people against whom the recently acquired twelve American-made A-29 Super Tucano ground attack aircrafts, supposed to be used against Boko Haram are being used to strafe.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), as the name suggests, is a group standing up against injustice and human rights abuses in Nigeria while agitating for a referendum to ensure equitable governance. They believe in the inalienable rights of all indigenous peoples of this world to self-determination as expounded in the United Nations Declaration A/61/295 of 2007.
In 2020, when it was clear that the government of Nigeria was actually sponsoring attacks on defenseless Igbo people, IPOB set up the Eastern Security Network (ESN) which functioned like guards without the capacity for real coercion. The formation of ESN became necessary when the killer Fulani Herdsmen had, with the protection of the federal government, illegally set up over 400 camps in the forests and farmlands of Igbo land from where they terrorized the villages in various despicable ways such as raping, kidnapping and ransom extortion, destruction of farm crops, maiming and outright brutal massacre. Images from these activities are too gory for this write-up but can be made available as needed.
The leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, a British citizen, was recently illegally abducted from Kenya and is being held by Nigeria’s security services without fair legal processes. This is the group Professor Sheehan dangerously called a terrorist organization. It is important to state that IPOB and ESN do not meet the three State Department’s criteria for classifying any organization as terrorists and registering them in the Global Terrorism Index.
Consequently, the US and the rest of the world have, rightly, not classified them as such. It is also worth stating that the murderous Fulani Herdsmen have met all three criteria for classification as terrorists but have always been shielded by Nigeria using fierce propaganda.
We believe that Professor Sheehan’s piece is ill-motivated and probably was induced by the propaganda machine of the Nigerian Government and has the potential to negatively impact the journalistic standards of the Washington Times and tarnish its reputation. This Op-Ed has become necessary in order to mitigate the damage the opinion piece has done. Professor Sheehan should be made to retract it.
We encourage Professor Sheehan to seek avenues to educate himself on the true situation in Nigeria so he does not endanger the lives of over 50 Million Christians at the hands of the Jihadist government of Nigeria and also damages America’s Homeland Security.
• Professor Anthony Ejiofor is the Executive Chairman of WIC