Guest Columnists

A March and Call For Peace in Nigeria

By Father Ikenna Okagbue

Brooklyn priests marched in solidarity with the people of Biafra to say no to injustice, nepotism, terrorism, and ethnic cleansing by the Nigerian Government against the Indigenous people of Biafra.

Three priests of the Catholic Brooklyn Diocese, Father Johnpaul Obiaeri, Father Michael Ugbor, and Father Ikenna Okagbue, joined their voice on July 23, 2021, in a peaceful protest in front of the British Consulate in New York to demand the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, a British citizen of Biafran origin and the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was abducted in Kenya and unlawfully rendered to the Nigerian authority.

Extraordinary rendition of an individual is a violation of human rights as recognized by Britain, Kenya, and Nigeria governments. Thus, the people of Biafra demand that the rights of Nnamdi Kanu should be respected and protected especially by the British government of whom Nnamdi Kanu is their citizen. It will be shameful for Britain to subject their citizen to the cruelty of Nigeria.

Chibueze Daniel in a press release on posits that from historical facts, economic consideration and consolidation trumps British citizenship of people of color thus, a British citizen of color, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu can go to the gallows as long as British economic interest in Nigeria is maintained. He accused Britain of institutionalized corruption in Nigeria by supporting tyrants at the expense of the masses, especially Biafrans, as long as “oil is flowing.” What a show of shame for Britain that in 2021, her national identity and pride can be traded for crude oil after all the evil of slavery that is associated with her in Africa. It is high time Britain started doing the right thing, for inaction is an action.

A call for a referendum, which is what Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the Indigenous people of Biafra are demanding from Nigeria, is not a crime. We want to defend and protect ourselves against government-sponsored terrorism in Nigeria. We want to protect our people and defend their rights. Injustice and nepotism have been a system of government in Nigeria and we are tired of this and so we raise in peaceful protest, calling on international bodies and media to come to the aid of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the people of Biafra.

“When you have something to say, silence is a lie,” says Jordan B. Peterson. It is on that note that these Brooklyn priests rose as not to live the lie. We want our voice to be heard, we need the voice of our people to be listened to. We are peaceful people. However, like Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, if we accept what is called peace in Nigeria, “it would be an obnoxious peace. It would be a peace that boiled down to stagnant complicity, deadening passivity” and if peace means that, these Brooklyn priests don’t want peace. These Brooklyn priests say they will not accept the peace that will make them second-class citizens. They will not keep their mouths shut in the midst of injustice and evil in the name of peace. Peace cannot be a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated, and segregated.

“Peace is the presence of positive good.” A good we hope to see in the Republic we fight for, the Republic of Biafra. With God on our side, we will subdue the institutional corruption erected in Nigeria. Our prayer is that one day our people will be free. Free to live their lives with dignity and honor, and with respect for the life and the prosperity of every man and woman.

Father Ikenna Okagbue is the parochial vicar for Mary Queen of Heaven Church, Brooklyn.