Nnamdi Kanu and Simon Ekpa face up for the IPOB’s soul

There is currently no denying that the Indigenous People of Biafra, a secessionist organization, has a significant leadership fracture (IPOB).

According to kuryaloaded, the group’s founder and leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and his supporters have publicly declared war on Simon Ekpa, a former soldier living in Finland who is reputed to be from Ebonyi State, with the intention of seizing control of the organization from him.

Additionally, there have been claims that Ekpa and other gang members are behind the violence taking place in the South-East States.

About three years ago, Simon Ekpa, an erstwhile ally of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, gained notoriety. The former Finnish soldier was formerly known as an athlete who competed for Nigeria and won a few awards before emigrating.

But the accolades he needed came from his identification with Kanu. Ekpa frequently identified himself in broadcast communications as an unashamed follower of Nnamdi Kanu, using the names IPOB and Kanu. People who are familiar with Ekpa claim that he held different broadcast messages from Kanu’s own and that he supported Kanu to the point of being a valued associate of his.

But Kanu’s arrest in Kenya last year marked a turning point for Ekpa, who began to assume leadership and even went as far as to solicit donations and try to take control of IPOB’s Eastern Security Network military wing (ESN). The Directorate of State (DOS), which was in charge of the organization in the absence of Kanu, made vain attempts to stop him.

Ekpa rejected DOS, saying that IPOB was operating autonomously and that no one was in control of it. As a result, he refused to submit to DOS. Before Kanu’s incarceration, Ekpa had collaborated closely with Kanu, even in the creation of the ESN, according to a source who claimed to be an IPOB member but asked to remain anonymous.

He is well knowledgeable about how IPOB operates. He had a tight relationship with Kanu, and no one will even concede that at some point he would rebel against the same Kanu, whom he had previously referred to as the supreme commander and who he had claimed as his student.

“I think he is just a greedy character, because even before the arrest of Kanu, he has once attempted to raise funds through our brothers living overseas. But it was after the arrest of Kanu that he came out full, to show himself.

“Several attempts by Kanu, even from prison, to try to clip his wings have failed. From making broadcasts, he built a crop of radical individuals for himself, and they referred to themselves as the autopilot group. Most of his boys working as armed men, are breakaway boys of Kanu’s ESN, who Ekpa recruited and have been using for nefarious purposes,” he said.

The source stated that at the heat of insecurity in Anambra State, before the State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo dislodged them, Ekpa maintained a camp in a part of Ihiala, and his boys were among those who were collecting money from people before any ceremony could be held.

Our source continued: “You know the notorious bandit called Double Lion, who was killed early this year in Ihiala? He and many other boys were working for Ekpa. IPOB also has its own boys, they work as security to any area they find themselves in. Their only problem was that, in any town they establish themselves, they will not want to see police in that town. They were friendly to locals, but Ekpa’s boys rather terrorise locals.

“You will remember that Anambra became a little cooler after Double Lion was killed. It may also interest you to know that Double Lion and his men were not killed by police or federal forces, they were killed by a special squad from ESN, who felt that Ekpa and his boys were giving them a bad name. Ekpa and Kanu’s faction of IPOB have been at a loggerhead for some time now, but they are trying to keep it under wraps.”

Last week, Ekpa, speaking from Finland, declared a five-day sit-at-home in the five South-eastern States. No reason was given for the declaration, but speaking in an internet based show, Have Your Say, anchored by US based journalist, Rudolf Okonkwo, Ekpa said that December 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 have been declared sit-at-home days. He threatened that anyone who dared to come out would be dealt with. He also stated that the group may likely disrupt the 2023 election in the South-east, saying it was only concerned about the restoration of Biafra.

Though the first day of the sit at home was not adhered to, as many towns in the South-east went about their normal duty, but in subsequent days, especially in Enugu and Imo States, there had been incidences of violence, suggesting that Ekpa and his men may have decided to make real their threat.

Meanwhile, spokesperson of IPOB, Mr Emma Powerful had urged the people to ignore Ekpa and go about their lawful businesses.

He said: “IPOB never issued any sit-at-home order on these days mentioned above because we are not miscreants, senseless, or jobless people.

“IPOB, which is concerned about our people, cannot issue such a brainless uncaring 5-day consecutive sit-at-home order to suffer our people during this critical time of the year when people are trying to make up in their businesses for the year.”

Speaking on the plan to disrupt the 2023 election, Powerful disregarded it saying: “Again, everyone has his or her rights to go and collect his or her PVC from their pooling and registration centre without molestation. IPOB never boycotts elections and has nothing to do with Nigeria shambolic elections. Our people should be prepared and ready to confront any fool who dares to enforce such wicked sit-at-home. Moreso, ESN operatives and IPOB volunteers will be out on these dates to protect our people and the markets.”

In what looked like taking the fight in his hands, Kanu who is still being held in a detention facility of the DSS in Abuja, was said to have told his lawyer to quickly reach out to Emma Powerful and the Directorate of State, to issue a press release cancelling the sit-at-home.

Kanu had reportedly wept over the orgy of killing in Igbo land, attributing it to people who he said are Igbos, but have long sold their consciences, and were bent on destroying Igbo land. Though Kanu did not mention Ekpa, he stated that those who were responsible for the killing were doing so, to ensure that the federal government does not release him, as they were using the name of IPOB to perpetuate crime.

A public affairs analyst, Mr Paul Ebe, while speaking with kuryaloadedput the whole blame of the killings in the South-East on Kanu.

He said: “Why is he shedding crocodile tears today? Is it because someone else is doing for him, what he would have loved to do by himself?

“He started this whole orgy of killing. Could we have forgotten the days when he used to speak on radio Biafra, giving orders to his people to kill security personnel, who he referred to as zoo security? The seed he planted has now started bearing fruit and he is here shedding crocodile tears. I have no sympathy for him for what he is going through.”

kuryaloaded has, however, learnt that Kanu’s lawyer, Barr Nnaemeka Ejiofor has begun a process to initiate a suit against Ekpa, for his criminal activities in the South-East, using IPOB.

There are allegations that Ekpa is being sponsored by a presidential candidate, who was working to whittle down the influence of a South-eastern candidate running for the presidency of Nigeria. It is believed that with violence, many people in the South-East where the presidential candidate has massive support may jettison the idea of voting.

As of the time of writing this report, many members of the Kanu’s faction of IPOB have declared ‘war’ against Ekpa, and have been reporting his social media handles, while some of the handles have been suspended.

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