The Efik Leadership Foundation (ELF) has warned the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to desist from including the Efik people in their agitation.
The ELF claims to be a pan Efik non-governmental organisation (NGO) that champions the cause of the Efik people of Calabar, Cross River State.
A statement signed by members of the group including the Board of Trustees Chairman, Richard Duke, said that the Efik people can champion their course if need arises and feel insulted by their inclusion in the Biafra map.
The group explained that, “Our decision to finally publicly state our position is borne out of the growing false propagation especially on social media of maps showing various versions of the proposed territories of the new country being agitated for wherein such maps include our beloved Cross River State”.
The group frowned at what they described as “impersonation” of the Obong of Calabar in a recent function organized by the IPOB.
According to the statement, “The ELF has watched patiently in the past months, the activities of certain individuals and groups agitating for the secession of certain States from Nigeria and the creation of Biafra nation.
“More recently, we were presented with a video of one Nnamdi Kanu, the acclaimed leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) at a gathering of some sort, where he thanked an unknown fellow for attending the meeting on behalf of the Obong of Calabar. This unknown man, who dressed in attire mimicking the Efik attire, had earlier claimed to be representing the Obong of Calabar” the state added.
“Historically, and as can be Googled for confirmation, the Obong of Calabar “is one of the eight rulers recognised by the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Natural Rulers and Treaty Kings whose Kingdoms existed hundreds of years before the amalgamation, and who interacted with, and signed Treaties and Agreements with Sovereign Nations in Africa and Europe”.
“We are therefore pleased to note that the Palace through the Chairman of the Etuboms Traditional Council (ETC) has since unequivocally disowned and distanced the Palace from the impersonator”.
“Continuing, the group stated “Although we acknowledge the imperfection of the present Nigeria union, we the Efik people are peace loving people hence the acronym for CALABAR: Come And Live And Be At Rest. We primarily seek, within a workable and generally beneficial framework, a better, effective and equitable union of all constituent parts and people of Nigeria, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, sex, age, status and other circumstances of life”.
“History has shown that we have never been a part of Biafra and we reiterate that we are still not a part of this new proposed Biafra, either. We were never consulted before or after the said Nnamdi Kanu and his co- adventurers began their new agitation for the Biafra Nation thus any attempt to annex or conscript us surreptitiously or use our people, land and territory as basis for bargaining is unequivocally resisted by the Efik People”.
”While the Biafra agitators and indeed all Nigerians are entitled, within the law, to speak up against injustices, marginalization by the Nigerian State, and need for referendum and restructuring, the Efik people are also very capable of tabling their own grievances, which indeed exist, to the relevant authorities without necessarily using Biafra as a crutch,” the group stated.
“We are deeply pained and feel insulted by the actions of IPOB, more so when they attempt to portray the Efik people as co-travellers in a venture where the two parties have not met to discuss any points of mutual benefit or interest”.
“The office of the Obong of Calabar is a highly revered office and the incumbent would never belittle himself by sending such a representative to any gathering. We make bold to say that in this particular instance, the so called representative was fraudulent and the Efik people vehemently alienate themselves from that gathering”.
“The Etuboms and any other person whom the Obong may occasionally ask to represent him are usually carefully selected and well spoken men and women of substance and definitely not the calibre of the imposter shown in that video”.
While pledging to work for the unity of Nigeria, ELF added that, “We demand that the Biafran agitators cease and desist from further including the Efik people in their Biafran shenanigans or misleading the world that the Efik people are part of the movement. For now, we the Efik people remain part of Nigeria and are more inclined to making the country a better place for every Nigerian.”