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The government generally lumps the separatist movement together with Boko Haram and the militant Yoruba group the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) as “extremist groups” threatening national security.
They note that no Igbo has been elected to lead the country since Nnamdi Azikiwe’s ceremonial presidency in the 1960s or to be vice president since Alex Ekwueme (1979 to 1983). The only Igbo head of state in this period, Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, was killed after only seven months.
In November 2015, he issued a “serious warning” that: “The corporate existence of Nigeria as a single entity is not a subject of debate and will not be compromised”.
On another occasion, he said: “For Nigeria to divide now…it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned”.
Following from this hardline stance, security agencies shut down the unlicensed radio station, Radio Biafra, operated by the separatist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
They have banned pro-Biafran newspapers, arresting and brutalising non-compliant vendors.
During the Biafra War, all other groups rallied round the federal government.