Michael Umeh lives in Austria since 2002 after seeing no future in Nigeria. "I am a trained engineer, but have not found a job because I am Biafra." Since 2014, he is Austrian chairman and Vienna coordinator of the Biafra independence movement IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra). He works as a mechanical engineer. - © Luiza Puiu
Michael Umeh lives in Austria since 2002 after seeing no future in Nigeria. "I am a trained engineer, but have not found a job because I am Biafra." Since 2014, he is Austrian chairman and Vienna coordinator of the Biafra independence movement IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra). He works as a mechanical engineer. - © Luiza Puiu

Vienna/Enugu. There was a time when southeast Nigeria was independent. It was 51 years ago, on May 30, 1967, when military governor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu proclaimed the Republic of Biafra. There was a separate anthem, its own currency, its own flag with rising sun. However, with Britain's support, Nigeria re-conquered the region within three years.

Now Biafra separatists are calling for a referendum on a new secession from Nigeria. The state reacts with great severity, as evidenced by reports by Amnesty International. Again and again Biafraner are kidnapped and murdered. Michael Umeh, Austrian chairman of the Biafra independence movement IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra), talks about a life without prospects in the region:

"Wiener Zeitung": Mr Umeh, Biafra separatists, including your organization IPOB, want to hold a referendum on the secession of Nigeria. Why?

Michael Umeh: Nigeria is only an artificial product of the former colonial power United Kingdom. For their business, for their economic advantage. There was already Biafra before Nigeria. The British have taken different regions together and made Nigeria out of them. The marriage does not work. We are forced to be part of Nigeria. That has required a lot of bloodshed. We want to get back to the state before these people came from Europe.

What kind of interest does Nigeria have in Biafra?

Most resources come from Biafra. Just think of the oil. There are also numerous mineral resources. The north, however, has a desert climate with many droughts, lack of water and hunger. The British gave all the power of the country to the poor north. The north liked to play along. After all, with British support, it can rule the country and has access to our resources.

Does Britain still have that much influence?

In any case. The British government is still in the role of Satan. They benefit from the situation. Especially from the oil. Nigeria is one of the largest oil producing countries in the world. The oil is funded by the British company Shell. The responsibility and complicity in the crimes committed against Biafranians is undeniable.