Thursday, 20 November 2014

FG Arraigns 12 Biafran Secessionists For Treason

Biafra Zionists
An Enugu Federal High Court on Wednesday remanded 12 members of the Biafra Zionist Federation, a pro-Biafran secession group, in prison custody after the Federal Government arraigned them for treason.
The secessionists, led by Benjamin Onwuka, had been in police custody since their arrest on June 5 when they invaded the studio of the Enugu State Broadcasting Service radio house in an unsuccessful bid to declare the secession of the Republic of Biafra.

Other members of the BZF arraigned alongside Onwuka are Kelvin Eke, Samson Ijaga, Uduma Uduma, Bethrain Obiekwe, Abraham Ugwu, Paulinus Uzoegbu and Fidelis Nwaano.

Others are Nnamchi Ndubuisi, Michael Olennya, Jeophet Nwaodo and Aloysius Chukwuma.

The Federal Government informed the court that the secessionists forced the radio station to air Biafran jingles and speeches of the late leader of the defunct Republic of Biafra, Odumegwu Ojukwu.

It also said the accused persons attempted to make a live broadcast for the secession of Biafra from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Two persons, a member of the BZF and a policeman, died during the June 5 invasion of the ESBS. The Enugu State police command accused the secessionists of killing the police officer.

Curiously, murder was not included in the four-count charge brought against the pro-Biafra activists, who had insisted from the onset that they were not responsible for the death of the policeman.

Their own version of the incident had been that the dead policeman was a victim of an unintended target of shots fired by a fellow policeman.

The 12 secessionists, mostly middle-aged men, pleaded not guilty to the charges read to them by a court clerk, who alternated between Igbo and English languages.

Following the ‘not guilty’ plea entered by the accused persons, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. D. E. Kaswe, asked the court to set a date for the commencement of trial.

The lawyer of the BZF, Mr. Olu Omotayo, who is also the South-East Zonal Director of the Civil Liberties Organisation, did not object to the request but he asked the court to set a short date, noting that the accused persons had been in detention for a long time.

The presiding judge, Justice D. V. Agishi, fixed December 8 for the trial.

The arraignment held amid heavy security presence in the court and at strategic locations around the court building.

Punch Newspaper