The World's Largest Prison is Igboland

By Nwohonja on

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In the course of the current war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinians in Gaza have severally made the claim that they were fighting because their land was made the “world’s biggest prison” by Israel. But looking closely at the claim, though it might sound unique, catchy and effective as war propaganda material, factually it cannot be correct.

The snag found in that claim is that a region  like Gaza, with the capability to build more than 30 sophisticated tunnels (discovered so far by Israel), which were as long as two kilometres, and which cost as much as three million Dollars, could not be such a large prison as being portrayed. To be able to import and amass men and materials to build such huge concrete tunnels shows a high measure of freedom obtained there.

Again, the claim of world’s largest prison cannot stand when viewed from the standpoint of Hamas, being able to build an armament base in the land, have been able to continuously shoot rockets into Israel for up to a month now.

Finally, Gaza cannot be world’s largest prison when placed alongside Igbo land. Yes, the world’s largest prison, unarguably, is in Africa. It is in West Africa, and as a matter of fact in a place known as Igbo land. It was part of the location formerly known as Eastern Nigeria; it became Biafra, the name with which it fought a war of resistance against genocide from Nigeria. It is inhabited by Igbo people (also known as Ndigbo). Today, Ndigbo can be found in Rivers, Delta and Edo states. They suffer same fate, repression and persecution from the Nigerian state.

Because Nigeria ran a full-fledged democracy in the early sixties, Ndigbo and many of their neighbours enjoyed autonomy in almost every aspect of governance except, perhaps, Defence and Currency. But today they have autonomy in no aspect of governance except, perhaps, in chieftaincy matters and marriage.

Palestinians claim their land was a huge prison, but they were able to make imports from seaports in their land to be able to build tunnels and amass armaments. But in Igbo land, this is not possible. Instead, for 44 years, Ndigbo were forced, through many government policies and decisions, to travel hundreds of kilometres to other people’s lands, to make their imports.

When they do, and after paying exorbitant duties imposed at the ports, they face dozens of obstacles on the way, as well as bearing quadrupled transportation costs as they transport their goods to their own territory. Among the obstacles are multiple checkpoints of the Police, Army, Custom, and other government agencies, where they were usually humiliated and money extorted from them.

Even local vigilantes and armed robbers often add to their miseries. There is also the danger of death-traps in the name of roads, where many people have perished uncountable times.

Igbo land is a large prison, unlike Gaza, because the population of the people who inhabit it is up to seven times more than that of Gaza, and companies which could offer employment to youths are none existence. All the thriving companies and industries had all been destroyed, in most parts by deliberate government policies. Some of the essential ones that could be revived have been sold to outsiders.

Igbo land has no international airport even though people from that area constitute up to 70 per cent of international travellers from the country. It is considered the largest prison because even places that could not boast of up to 10 per cent of the country’s air-travelling public are designated international airports in Nigeria.

Seen from another angle, Ndigbo cannot obtain visa to travel abroad unless they travel hundreds of kilometres to Lagos or Abuja. Even though they have abundant crude oil deposits in their land, they cannot get jobs in oil companies. They have to travel to Lagos or Abuja, where the headquarters of the oil companies are. You can imagine the disadvantages they encounter in relation to those who have the headquarters in their own land. Igbo land is the world’s largest prison.

The people are also in mental and psychological prison. Their schools where taken over by the central government in 1970, and regressive school curricula was forced on them, which expunged their history and past achievements. Just as their children and youths were denied their history, the country’s mainstream media daily lie to them about many issues concerning them.

Igbo land is perhaps the part of the world where students would score very high marks in school entrance examinations, but would be denied admission, and those who score low marks are admitted. A good case in point is the issue of admission into Unity Schools in Nigeria as was released last year, where students from Anambra State “who scored 139 points) were denied admission; while those from Zamfara (who scored just 2 points) were granted admission.

Igbo land is a place were very highly qualified individuals are not allowed to perform at the national stage because of where they came from. It is a place where highly qualified individuals are either denied certain offices, or their juniors and less qualified (especially from the Northern parts) are placed to boss them. People from Igbo land may not make the national football team because of where they came from, unless they changed their names. That is the world’s largest prison.

The people of Gaza complained of their land being the world’s largest prison, when they are the ones that run their own security – their Police, Army, and other security contraptions – but that is not so in Igbo land. They call their land a large prison when they could demonstrate in it, even throw stones and pellets at Police personnel and still stand on their feet, alive. They should go to Igbo land were merely appearing in a demonstration with Biafran flag and T-Shirt will earn one a rain of Police or Army bullets, and death.

Igbo land is a place where within a 100 kilometres road, one would observe up to 10 Police checkpoints that exist only to extort money from the people. Igbo land is the world’s largest prison because it is there that Fulani herdsmen walk around unchallenged with AK 47 rifles (in a country where guns are prohibited). With it they have killed scores of Igbo people, but have never been apprehended by the Police or prosecuted.

That is understandable because all the Police Commissioners, top Police officers, and military top brass serving in the land are Northern Muslims. The men are Usman Gwari for Anambra State; Maigari Dikko for Ebonyi State; Abdulmajid Ali for Imo State; and Adamu Ibrahim for Abia State. Already, Ndigbo are not fooled, but convinced that the mission of the Northern Police chiefs on their land was to prosecute an Islamising agenda.

The people were not surprised recently when apprehended Boko Haram bombers, who planted bombs in a Church in Owerri, Imo State, were allowed to walk away free men. This is major reason why some people, including this writer, claimed that their land was under occupation.

The belief that there is an obvious ongoing drive by Islamist Northerners to subdue Ndigbo and islamise them, is supported by a previous declaration in 1947 by a late Northern leader, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

He had declared: “I should like to make it clear to you that if the British quitted Nigeria now, at this stage; the Northern people would continue their interrupted conquest to the sea.” In as much as the statement could be seen as indicative of a poor grasp of history, it is believed to be part of the mindset that motivated the massacre of Ndigbo in Kano two years earlier in 1945, subsequent years, and up to the present time.

The same mindset is evidently still at work today, as the Police and Army have always arrested, detained, dehumanized and killed none violent Biafran agitators and got away with it – killing up to 2010 since the year 1999. That is why the people came out one day to see corpses of Igbo youths floating on Ezu River in Anambra State, and an autopsy report was carried out, and today – about a year after – the report has not been released.

That is also the reason why no meeting by the people was ever allowed to take place in the land without the Police disrupting it. Ready case in point, was a youths’ meeting in Nnewi, Anambra State, meant to unify them for developmental purposes was disrupted by the Police and Army. It was a good reason why many of the people prefer to hold their meetings outside their land, like their World Igbo Congress (WIC) held yearly in the United States of America. Even at that the meetings are always seriously monitored, and every participant and speech carefully scrutinised.

The above are just few reasons why this writer considers Igbo land as the most classical example of what the world’s largest prison should look like. So, if Hamas want to see the world’s greatest prison, they should head to Igbo land, in Nigeria.

Last line:

At this point, it is important to note the error in Balewa’s declaration, and to point out the true position to his later-day followers, who have continued to plot further subjugation of Ndigbo. They should note that it was not the British that stopped the invading Mohammedans; it was the people’s God that fought them off and made sure that all of them perished at lower Benue. That God is still alive today and will yet fight for his people.

It should equally be noted that between 1967 and 1970, the people stood toe to toe and fought against certain elements in the Nigerian military whose plan was to exterminate them. For this reason, it is equally important today to state that the children of those who fought in that war are still around, and that the Tiger has not lost its fangs, no matter what oppressors may think.


Posted on August, 1 2014

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