Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Biafra Day Celebration Turns Bloody As Security Agents Allegedly Kill 4 Activists

Events marking the 18th anniversary celebration of new Biafra, yesterday turned bloody in Onitsha, Anambra State, as members of the Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, accused the joint military task force operating in the state of killing five of their members.
BIM also accused the military task force of breaking the skulls of four of its members and arresting over 600 members across the country in what they termed a most gruesome manner.

Alleging the killings, injuries and arrests to newsmen shortly after the encounter, BIM’s  Director of Information, Mazi Chris Mocha stated that while their members gathered at Obosi By-Pass along the Onitsha/Owerri road, near Onitsha, the joint military task force including the Army, Navy, Police, Civil Defence, Department of State Services, DSS and others swooped on them with over 45 Hilux vehicles and opened fire, killing five of their members instantly. 

According to Mocha, the JTF also used machetes to cut some parts of the bodies of four of their members, including their skulls, adding that the four victims of the machete cuts included Chief Vincent Iloh, Ebuka Emmanuel, Innocent Okolie and Mrs Virginia Ubaezuonu in the desperate attempt of the JTF to disperse the crowd. 

He said the JTF arrested 206 members in Anambra. However, as at the time of filing this report  yesterday, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Haruna Mohammed (SP) told newsmen on phone that he was not yet aware of such an incident, adding that he is only the spokesman of the police and not of the JTF. 

Security cracks down on BIM in Ebonyi, Abia, Rivers 

Officers and men of Ebonyi, Abia and Rivers State Police Commands in collaboration with other sister agencies, also arrested members of BIM, that converged at  popular places in the states to celebrate Biafra Day. 

In Ebonyi,  the Police arrested BIM members who converged at the popular Dr. Akanu Ibiam flyover and others who  came from different senatorial zones for the  celebration by the group in Abakaliki.

 They had proposed marching through major streets of Abakaliki before they were intercepted, made to lie down on the ground before they were eventually moved to the State Police Headquarters in Abakaliki for interrogation.

Vanguard gathered that security agencies in the state also accosted them along Nkaliki road in Abakaliki Local Government area of the state. As they began their peaceful march in their colourful uniforms, security personnel sprayed teargas on them and arrested some of them. The Army, Department of State Services, DSS and the Police carried out the joint operation. 

Speaking with Vanguard on phone, the commander of Nigerian Military Cantonment in Nkwegu, Col S. O. Sadiq confirmed the participation of the army in the incident and subsequent arrest of BIM members, noting  that all the arrested persons were handed over to the Police as no member of the group was taken to the barracks for any form of interrogation or detention. 

According to him, MASSOB did not notify security agencies in the state of the event in writing which necessitated the action that stopped them from embarking on such exercise that might lead to break down of law and order in the state. 

The group had earlier announced the event through the media and social media channels in the country. According to them, the event was meant to commemorate the declaration of New Biafra by its leader, Dr. Ralph Uwazuruike. Reacting to the development, a representative of BIM in charge of Ebonyi Central Zone of the state, Gideon Iloke accused the Nigerian government of masterminding their arrest and constant intimidation at all times. 

“Today, we are celebrating our first year of Biafra independence. We are happy that the world authorities have recognised Biafra as an independent state and that is why throughout the federation, south-south and south-east are celebrating Biafra independence. 

“As we are celebrating and jubilating, the law enforcement agencies under the government of Nigeria did not allow us to enjoy our independence. They used their ammunition and tear-gas to disperse our members. About four hundred of them have been arrested by the police in Abakaliki alone. 

Some of our members who are on their way from Afikpo South were arrested. They were made to lie down on the road. They also threatened our lives.” In their separate opinions, a member of the council of elders of Ebonyi South Zone, Mr.  Sunday  Ezaka and the zonal leader of Ebonyi North, Mr. Nwamini Vincent wondered why the government was always after them instead of putting their resources towards curbing the menace of Boko Haram and armed herdsmen which had led to loss of innocent lives, including destruction of valuable properties across the country. 

They said: “We are not happy the way Nigerian  soldiers are maltreating us.  We are celebrating the first independence of Biafra, the first of its kind. Before the event, we informed the whole world, Nigeria inclusive that we are celebrating our first independence but to my greatest surprise, particularly in south-south and south-east,   soldiers were mobilised to come and maltreat us. 

They regarded us as slaves and that is why we say we are not happy to stay in Nigeria. “We are calling on the world powers that gave us the mandate to do this today to come and get us out of this country. We are appealing to the international community and Donald Trump to come to our aid. 

They should intervene because we are tired of being Nigerians. We can die for our freedom instead of living as a slaves.” Police Spokesman in Ebonyi  state, Loveth Odah confirmed the incident but could not give the actual figure of persons arrested. “I don’t have the details of the actual number of persons arrested right now. When I get the  details,  I will let you know” she said. 

Police arrest 10 in Port Harcourt 

In Port Harcourt, security operatives arrested 10 members of BIM. The 10 were among the hundreds of supporters of pro-Biafran agitators who had stormed Port Harcourt to mark  the 18 years of the existence of  MASSOB and BIM. 

The pro-Biafra agitators had commenced the procession at Mile 2 Market in Port Harcourt and were heading towards Eleme Junction before they were intercepted around Garrison Junction. The security men that shot  teargas to disperse the members also arrested ten of the protesters, especially those on military and Civil Defense camouflage. 

Speaking, Solomon Chukwu, BIM’s  leader in the state 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 on uniform. We didn’t take them unaware by coming out. They are aware. I am calling on the FG that BIM  is non-violent and we are a registered organisation. 

We are shocked that they decided to treat us like this.” Also, Engr. Anthony Azukem, a.k.a Tonene  said the essence of the rally was to re-awaken the call for the creation of the Biafran State. He said: “ The rally  is to mark our 18 years of existence after it was formed in year 2000 by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. The call for the reawakening of   the creation of Biafra State is part of the reason for this rally.” 

Meanwhile, at press time, the Public Relations Officer of Rivera State, Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said he is not aware of the development.

50 BIM members  arrested in Aba, Abia State

Over 50 members of  BIM were allegedly arrested by the Police in Aba, Abia State. It was gathered that the BIM members were arrested at Osisioma Ngwa junction along the Enugu -Port Harcourt expressway when the Police patrol team  numbering over 15 shot tear gas  at them. 

BIM leader for Abia South zone,Fred Onyenaucheya, who condemned the arrest of the Biafra activists, insisted that BIM  will not be cowed by the clampdown on its members. He said,” BIM is a non violent organization.We are shocked that Police could tear gas and arrest our members who were only celebrating the re-dedication of the new Biafra.

As at now ,over 20 of our members are receiving medical attention for injuries they sustained during the Police attack. Even our female members were not spared.We have about 50 BIM members arrested by the Police. This is a grave infringement on our right to freedom of movement. But we assure the Nigerian government that no arrest,detention or any other form of intimidation will stop us from actualizing an independent state of Biafra.” 

He called on the Police to immediately release and apologize to the detained BIM  members as they did not commit any crime. Efforts to get the reaction of the Abia State Commissioner of Police,Mr.Anthony Ogbizi, was unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report. 

Biafra govt already in place—BIM leader 

In a related development, Samuel Okah, zonal leader of BIM in Cross River State has said there is already a Biafra government in place in the South-South and South-East and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. 

Okah spoke yesterday  in Ikom during a parade round major streets of the townby hundreds of members of the movement to mark the 18th  anniversary of the declaration of Biafra without violence by Chief Ralph Uwazurike. 

“There is widespread consciousness of the existence of Biafra and no matter how much they try to intimate us by killing, arresting and imprisoning us, we know there is a Biafra consciousness in everyone in the regions of the South- South and South East and no government can be stronger than such”. 

He said Great Britain willingly gave Nigeria independence when the people agitated for it and did not resort to the use of violence and intimidation and Nigeria should learn from that example and allow Biafra nation be. 

Our struggle for self governance can’t be deterred —Lagos BIM 

Also yesterday, BIM  said that the struggle for self governance is still on and it will continue to reinstate this in the mind of the Igbo  and the world at large. 

Speaking at its second anniversary since the adoption of ‘New Biafra’ in Lagos, the western representative of the group, Mr. Benjamin Onuegbu, said: “May 22nd is the official take off in history for a proper and undeniable beginning of the New-Biafra before the international community when Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, BIM  leader, reinstituted the Biafra flag at Aba in 1999.” 

Today, history is reversed, reviewed, and restored in the midst of unavoidable circumstances to the consternation of the whole world through the creative entity of the great son of Africa and the Biafra son”. 

He said. According to him, it is a fight for generations to come saying that if we don’t address the challenges of today there will be no better tomorrow. Reacting to the news of the group associated with violence, he said “Our group cannot be like the other emerged groups filled with deceit and violence. 

We are a New Biafra, a peaceful one and that is why we celebrate our independence on 22nd while the other groups do theirs on 30th May” he disclosed. Commenting on the anniversary, the zonal head of region B, Mr.F.M. Okpara said that since flag is a symbol of authority, Biafra is already a dream come true. Also commenting, a member of the group, Mr.Calistus Eze said “This celebration is quite significant to the struggle of the actualization of the state of Biafra and we are reminding everyone that Biafra lives on”. 

The group also said that it rallied through different states of the country in solidarity of its struggle for self government. However, the group noted that despite hurdles to achieving its aim, her 25 agenda, though undisclosed, is already at the actualization stage as the whole world will soon witness it. 

“When we make our agenda known to the world, those false groups try to steal emulate them but in a violence manner. So we will bring to the world what we have one at a time”. They noted.  

Culled from: Vanguard Newspaper