Following violent clashes between government forces and Biafra separatists, a three-day nighttime curfew was imposed in Aba, the commercial capital of Abia state, on Tuesday, September 12 and will remain in effect until Friday, September 15. The curfew is in place from 18:00 to 06:00 (local time). The measure was introduced following two days of violent clashes between members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and government forces. Tensions are particularly high in the region, and clashes between IPOB supporters and security forces in Abia state are likely in the coming days.
On Tuesday, September 12 hundreds of supporters of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the IPOB secessionist group, congregated at his home in Umuahia. The activists mobilised following reports that Nigerian soldiers deployed to the area around Kanu's house on Sunday, September 10. A lawyer for the IPOB leader has reportedly accused the government of placing him under house arrest. IPOB claimed that soldiers and police killed five and injured at least 30 IPOB militants around Kanu's home. An army spokesman claims that IPOB militants blocked a military convoy and threw stones and bottles at soldiers, before being dispersed.
The ongoing situation is the latest in a series of escalating conflicts between Biafra separatists and the central Nigerian government. A wave of relatively peaceful protests started in 2015 over the lack of infrastructure, the poor distribution of oil revenue, and low representation in government posts. The situation started to intensify following the arrest and prosecution in October 2015 of Kanu, who has also served as director of Radio Biafra, an unlicensed radio station broadcasted from London and accused of spreading hate and violence. Since his arrest, protesters have demanded both his release and an independent Biafra, and have repeatedly clashed with security forces. Kanu has been released on bail since May 2017.
The so-called Biafra region includes various southeastern (Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, and Ebonyi) and southern states (Delta, Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Cross River). The region is inhabited largely by the mostly Christian Igbos tribe. The region seceded from Nigeria on May 30, 1967, to establish the Republic of Biafra, sparking a brutal civil war. Since the end of the civil war, many Igbos believe thatprior to the election of President Goodluck Jonathan (a Christian from the South) in 2010, the central government deliberately pursued a discriminatory policy aimed at marginalizing them. The election of President Muhammadu Buhari (a Muslim from the North) to the presidency in 2014 triggered fears that Igbo communities would once again be marginalized as they were before Jonathan's election.
It is worth noting that not all communities in southern Nigeria would like to be included in a sovereign Biafra.
Travelers are advised to follow any orders issued by authorities and abide by all curfews in effect.The security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly concerning in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping. Some Western governments consequently advise against travel to certain areas of the northeast (e.g. states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa as well as parts of Kano and Adamawa states) and the southern Niger Delta region (e.g. states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers). Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to these areas.