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Self-determination: Groups seek separate republic status for Akwa Ibom

  By Cletus Ukpong     A coalition of groups from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south, has demanded that the state be granted the sta...


By Cletus Ukpong 


A coalition of groups from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south, has demanded that the state be granted the status of an independent republic.


The leaders of the groups presented their demand in a communique issued after a worldwide meeting held virtually on June 5.


This demand adds to the ongoing agitations in different parts of Nigeria, with the notable one being championed by IPOB, a pro-Biafra group which has been proscribed by the Nigerian government, and a similar one by some Yoruba groups in the country’s South-west.


“Akwa Ibom land must be independent and free,” the groups said in the communique.


“We demand an end to the political and economic ‘colonisation’ of Akwa Ibom by the Nigerian State,” they added.


The leaders of the coalition said they represent seven million Akwa Ibom population and that the state has enough natural and human resources to sustain the population.


“We must honour our children and grandchildren in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria and the Diaspora by seeking for an establishment of an independent, democratic Akwa Ibom Nation in strict accordance with the international statutes and conventions of the United Nations.


“We shall adopt and submit a map that clearly delineates the constituent areas of the people of Akwa Ibom and demonstrates the aspiration of the Akwa Ibom people to establish their own sovereignty from the Nigerian State,” the communique stated.


The group mentioned the 1999 Nigerian constitution as part of their complaints against Nigeria.


“The unworkable 1999 Nigerian constitution that was written by the Nigerian military leaders with no input from Akwa Ibom People has imposed a huge burden of survival on the people of Akwa Ibom.


“The 1999 constitution has covertly and overtly shortchanged and impoverished the people of Akwa Ibom through the expropriation of the natural resources of the people of Akwa Ibom by the Nigerian State.


“The dysfunctional 1999 constitution of the Nigerian State has created the present political crises, safety and security risks in the Nigerian State leading to threats to the Akwa Ibom people.”


They also accused the Nigerian Military of carrying out extra-judicial killings in some part of Akwa Ibom.


A clip circulating on WhatsApp platform showed the convener of the meeting, Offiong Aqua, a U.S-based professor, standing in front of the UN headquarters in New York, where he said he went to present the communique.


The offices at the UN were closed so Mr Aqua could not do the presentation; he hopes to do it soon when the offices are open, he said in the clip.


“We do have a lot of support from Akwa Ibom people at home and abroad,” Mr Aqua told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday.


“We don’t want anybody to take up arms against the Nigerian State, we are going to do this peacefully. We don’t feel that violence is the answer.”


He said the coalition was ”doing documentation” for presentation to the UN.


Reacting to the development, the Commissioner for Information in Akwa Ibom State, Ini Ememobong said neither Governor Udom Emmanuel nor the Government of Akwa Ibom State was part of the agitation.


“The clamour may be in the season because this looks like the season where people are clamouring for independent states, but it doesn’t have any linkage to the Government of Akwa Ibom,” he said.


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