The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a separatist movement that seeks to recreate Biafra as an independent state. From 1967-70, there was a civil war over Biafra’s attempt to secede that left up to two million Nigerians dead. Ever since, the Nigerian government has tried to crack down on Biafra secessionist movements. Hence, it’s imprisonment of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu.
On the U.S. inauguration day, the IPOB staged a rally in Port Harcourt in support of American President Donald Trump. According to a movement spokesman, the IPOB supports President Trump because he favors “self-governance” and “the right of self-determination.”
According to some media sources, the Nigerian police killed eleven demonstrators and arrested more than sixty-five. The police say that they only used tear gas. The Nigerian police are notoriously heavy-handed and their public statements do not have the reputation for veracity. In any event, the IPOB are clearly trying to use President Trump to advance their cause (Biafran’s also initially looked to Barack Obama to support their cause after his election). The Nigerian government of President Muhammadu Buhari is likely to be highly sensitive to any indication that the Trump administration is sympathetic to Biafra separatism. Meanwhile, President Buhari is in London on vacation.