Tension is building between Nigeria’s Federal Government and a militia that claimed to be aligned to the detained leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, over the hijacking of a merchant ship.
The group have called for the immediate release of Kanu or they would blow up the ship with its foreign crew.
Defense Ministry spokesperson, Maj. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, who confirmed that the ship was hijacked on Friday in an interview with AP called it “an act of sabotage,” but failed to disclose the name of the ship.
Abubakar told The Associated Press that the navy is in pursuit of the captured vessel.
Other officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue is sensitive, said the hijackers have given the government 31 days to free Kanu or they will blow up the ship along with its crew.
The ultimatum was given at the weekend by a militant identified as General Ben. Ben is not a separatist but “some Niger Delta militants have shown interest in working with us,” said Uchena Madu, a leader of the Movement for the Actualization of a Sovereign State of Biafra.
The hijacking is the first sign that the struggle for Biafra may be entering a new phase of militancy since the Biafra leader was arrested on October 17 last year by the Department of State Security.
Kanu was granted bail which the federal government failed to honour and was re-arraigned before a High Court and was remanded in Kuje prison, a suburb of Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital territory.
More than 30 persons have been killed by the military at different times as agitators of Biafra protested peaceful mostly in the South East and South South areas of the country.