Monday, 9 June 2014

Pro-Biafra Group’s Bid to Seize Enugu Radio, TV Stations Foiled

Members of the Pro-Biafra group, Biafra Zionists Federation, BZF, led by Benjamin Onwuka, who allegedly attacked the Government House, Enugu on March 8 allegedly struck again in the early hours of June 5 at the Enugu State Broadcasting Service, ESBS in an attempt to seize the radio and television station for a broadcast.

The move was however foiled by a team of policemen alerted by some staff of the station who arrived for the morning duty and met their premises under siege.

The BZF leader, Benjamin Onwuka and 12 members of his group were arrested as they tried to escape from the station after the clash with the policemen and were said to be undergoing interrogation at the Criminal Investigations Department of the State Police Command.
Eyewitness accounts said the BZM members, in an operation similar to the March 8 invasion of the Enugu Government House, stormed the premises of ESBS through the fence at about 5 am and held the security men and staff on night shift hostage.

They forcefully gained entry into the offices including the studio and attempted to put on the equipment for a live broadcast.
But unknown to them, the television had been off air since the past two days while they were unable to access the radio station which was broadcasting at the time.
“While they were struggling with the station’s staff, four policemen who got wind of the invasion by the hoodlums arrived the premises in two patrol cars and moved into the station to confront them. Soon after they got into the building we started hearing gunshots and people were running helter-skelter. There was heavy shooting but I don’t know if the BZM members were armed.  At the end we saw the corpse of a police sergeant and a member of the group on the floor. The Police Inspector who sustained injuries on his head was immediately taken away by his colleagues,” an eyewitness said.

However, having failed to accomplish their mission, Onwuka and his colleagues escaped through the Universal Hotel road on foot but some mobile policemen drafted to the scene from the Government House, about a kilometer away, were said to have pursued them into the bush behind some government offices near the State House of Assembly Complex and apprehended them.
Onwuka and 12 members were reportedly arrested and taken to the state police headquarters. The State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ebere Amaraizu confirmed the arrest of Onwuka and his members but did not give the number of those in custody.

According to him, “one police sergeant was killed, one other police officer injured while one died on the side of the hoodlums”, promising to give further details when ongoing enquiry into their activities were concluded.