- … nab MASSOB members for marking anniversary
- The police on Tuesday foiled an attempt by some pro-Biafran agitators to mark ‘Biafran Day’ with a parade in Enugu metropolis.
- The secessionists, who are members of the Biafra Independence Movement faction of […]
The police on Tuesday foiled an attempt by some pro-Biafran agitators to mark ‘Biafran Day’ with a parade in Enugu metropolis.
The secessionists, who are members of the Biafra Independence Movement faction of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, had converged on Afia Nine, in the Obiagu area of Enugu, from where they planned to march through the city.
BIM, led by former MASSOB leader, Ralph Uwazuruike, had designated May 22 as ‘Biafran Day,’even though other pro-Biafran groups, including MASSOB and the Indigenous People of Biafra, celebrate the anniversary of the defunct Republic of Biafra on May 30, the date the breakaway state declared independence from Nigeria in 1967.
About 20 BIM members, who were dressed in Biafran colours, were arrested when the police swooped on the group.
Biafran flags and other paraphernalia, and musical instruments, including bands, as well as public address systems, were recovered from the agitators.
The spokesman for the Enugu State Police Command, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the development, said the secessionists were arrested for ‘disrupting the peace.’
Amaraizu, in a statement made available to journalists, said the Enugu State Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed, had warned against any breakdown of law and order in the state in connection with the agitation for Biafra.
Amaraizu added that the police had commenced investigation into the development.
Also, operatives of the Delta State Police Command on Tuesday foiled an attempt by members of MASSOB and BIM to mark the 18th year anniversary celebration of the “Biafra movement” in the state.
The exercise, which was non-violent, had commenced when a crack team of the police stormed the venue of the celebration at Oko community near the defunct Toll-Gate, adjacent to the River Niger Bridge, in the Oshimili South Local Government Area of the state.
The MASSOB and BIM members, who had begun some rites, however, fled the scene for the fear of being arrested by security operatives.
The police presence immediately brought to a halt the celebration which was attended by some men dressed in “Biafra military uniform.”
Some leaders of the groups including the Delta South elder, Chief Joseph Odikpo; Delta North leader, Chief Emeka Okafor, and the Delta Central Zonal leader, Chief Chike Mbaeyi, condemned the police action, saying that their motive was to turn the celebration to a violent one.
Odikpo, who flayed the foiling of the event, said intimidation would not stop them from achieving a “Biafra Republic.”
While lamenting the arrest and inhuman treatment being meted out to the Zonal Commander of Security of one of the groups in Delta State, Mr. Ignatius Adili-Ajana, at the office of the Department of State Services in Akwa, Odikpo called for his release saying he was unlawfully arrested.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Aniamaka, could not be reached for comment as calls to his telephone line were not connecting as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, 10 persons suspected to be members of MASSOB and the BIM were arrested on Tuesday in Port Harcourt while they were celebrating the 18th anniversary of MASSOB.
Supporters of the two groups had embarked on a rally in Port Harcourt, marching through the Mile One Market and some streets in the Rivers State capital before some of them were arrested at the Garrison Junction along the Aba-Port Harcourt expressway.
Dissatisfied by the development, the leader of the group, Solomon Chukwu, said, “I am not happy about the development. I met the security people and told them what we are doing, that we are not violent, but they asked us to close and go. They did not give us chance to go.
“They arrested our people. Our coming out is not that we took them unawares. They were aware. We were meant to go to the Eleme Junction, but because of their action, we stopped here at Garrison. We will follow up the issue of the people arrested to secure their release.
“I am calling on the Federal Government that MASSOB is non- violent and we are a registered organisation. We are shocked that they decided to treat us like this,” Chukwu said.
When contacted, the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Nnamdi Omoni, said he had not been briefed on the matter.
Omoni, however, said he would confirm the situation report from the Divisional Police Officers of the affected areas.
Also in Imo State, MASSOB claimed that more than 100 of its members were on Tuesday arrested by the police for marking the anniversary.
The spokesperson for the Imo State Police Public Relations Officer, Andrew Enwerem, who confirmed the development, described the pro-Biafran group as separatists who were disturbing the peace of the state.