The Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is on the news again. This time, it is neither about Mr. Nnamdi Kanu nor their regular protests in Nigeria and other parts of the world but about the Biafran passport which was launched by the movement in 2009 as part of the program to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The former leader of the group, Ralph Uwazuruike, said that it was important to introduce the passport due to an incessant request from Biafrans in diaspora. These are ardent Biafra faithfuls who believe without a doubt, that when this fight is finally won, Biafra will be far better than Nigeria.
Reacting to the controversy trailing the Biafran passport, MASSOB has made it clear that the passport is authentic and accepted in different countries across of the world, according to Vanguard reports. In an information made known by the national director of information for MASSOB, Sunny Okereafor, in an interview with vanguard, the passport given by the Biafran Directorate of Passport had already been used to travel outside Nigeria by many Biafran citizens without any difficulties. In the words of Mr Okereafor,
“I assure you the Biafran passport is valid. Except Nigeria, other countries of the world accept Biafran passport and allow our citizens to travel with it. In Europe, North and South America, Biafra passport is accepted. Nigeria is the only country that seizes Biafran passport. Go to neighbouring Ghana here, they will stamp the passport for you. Don’t be confused by the propaganda of the Nigerian government that there is nothing like Biafran passport,”.
He forewarned the Federal Government of Nigeria to desist from confiscating Biafran passport or intimidating its holders. Mr. Okereafor continued by saying that,
“MASSOB appeals to Biafran citizens to procure their passport and use it to travel. If you doubt me, get a Nigerian passport while I have my Biafran passport; when we get to Europe, you will see who they will welcome than the other.
“Many people with Nigerian passport have been repatriated, but have you heard of anybody with Biafran passport receiving such ill-treatment?”
He informed the citizens that the passport can be acquired is at the price of N5,000 and it is to be renewed with N2,000. Mr Sunny debunked the information that people who purchased the passport are being sent back at various airports. This is contrary to the information released by Mr. Ogbole Amedu-Odeh, the Director Public Communications Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which he denied knowledge of the distribution of a Biafran passport in Nigeria. According to him, “I don’t know anything about any Biafran passport. I am not aware that it exists. But good luck to whoever is using it to travel.”
The controversy surrounding the Biafran passport may still go on for a long while following a report from The Telegraph newspaper published on 9th January. In the report, various agencies of the federal government responsible for providing documents like the international passport have all disassociated themselves from anything relating to an Igbo passport sequel to the information which the new leader of the group, Uchenna Madu, made public.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated emphatically that the information concerning the production and issuing of a United States of Biafra passport is false.
In a similar development, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) also declared the idea of the existence of such controversial document as untrue. According to News Herald, “the NIS Public Relations Officer (PRO), Mr. Ekpedeme King, a Deputy Comptroller, confessed that he had never seen the said Biafran passport and had never heard that anyone was arrested at the airport for presenting it as part of his travel documents”
Despite the fact that the production of the Biafran passport has been denied by the offices it concerns, the police has decided not to wait till its too late before they take action. The Lagos state police is already making investigations to discover possible places where the production of such documents could be made. According to the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joe Offor, a Deputy Superintendent of Police,
“We are looking in the direction of Somolu as the biggest community in the state where there is a large number of printing press regarding the alleged production of the Biafran passport. We are looking in that area of the state, but please put whatever you have into writing so as to assist the command in their investigation.”
While those concerned claim that the issue of the production of a Biafran passport in Nigeria is only a joke, die-hard believers in the course of Biafra, have gone ahead to tear their Nigerian passport as a way expressing their solidarity for the Sovereign State of Biafra which currently exists in the world of utopia.