Indigenous people of biafra (ipob) group was founded in 2012 by two uk-based igbos, nnamdi kanu and uche mefor, and launched an armed wing, the eastern security network (esn), in 2020. this group has been fighting for the region’s independence in south-eastern nigeria, but the line between its campaign and criminality has become increasingly blurred. thousands of people have been unable to spend the last two christmases at their ancestral homes due to fear.
Violence has been occurring in the region since 2021, with hundreds of civilians and security force members killed in attacks across the region. in october 2021, more than 40 houses were burned down in izombe village in one of the most shocking cases. a nigerian army officer travelling to visit her grandmother was abducted and the video of her naked and bound was released. another female soldier travelling for her traditional marriage was similarly abducted in may 2022 and her captors released a video of her being killed and decapitated.
Violence has been perpetuated by the ipob group, vigilante groups formed with government backing, and separatists. the weekly “sit-at-home” order enforced by separatists has caused businesses to suffer heavy losses. nnamdi kanu remains in detention by nigeria’s security agents. soldiers have been accused of torching homes and businesses in villages while searching for an abducted army officer. people identifying themselves as separatists have also been accused of targeting civilians. the violence is believed to be a result of the fight for the region’s independence and the government’s attempt to curb insecurity.