Clashes and violence with trails of blood, arrests and detentions inundated members of Biafra Independence Movement/Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, BIM/MASSOB nationwide as they marked their 18 years’ anniversary this year.
In Onitsha, Anambra State, BIM accused the joint military task force operating in the state of killing its five members.
BIM also accused the military task force of breaking the sculls of four of their members and arresting 206 others in what they termed a most gruesome manner.
Confirming the killings, injuries and arrests to newsmen shortly after the encounter, Mazi Chris Mocha, BIM’s Director of Information, 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 sculls, adding that the four victims of the machete cuts included Chief Vincent Iloh, Ebuka Emmanuel, Innocent Okolie, and Mrs Virginia Ubaezuonu in the desperate attempts of the JTF to disperse the crowd.
Mocha mentioned Chief Christian Ifejika, Declan Okafor, Gloria Umejesi, Rose Oforbike, Fidelis Oduenyi and 173 others as those arrested and whisked away to unknown destination by the JTF among the in Onitsha.
Officers and men of Ebonyi, Abia and Rivers State Police Commands in collaboration with other sister agencies, Tuesday, arrested members of Biafra Independence Movement, BIM , who 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 were coming from different senatorial zones for the Independence celebration of 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 Security, 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 noted 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 Biafran Republic by its leader, Dr. Ralph Uwazuruike.
Reacting to the development, a representative of MASSOB-BIM in charge of Ebonyi Central zone of the state, Brother Gideon Iloke accused the Nigerian government of masterminding their arrest and constant intimidation at all times.
“Today, we are celebrating first year 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 ammunitions and tear-gas to disperse our members. About four hundred of them have been arrested by the police. Some of our members who are on their way from Afikpo South were arrested. They were meant to lie down on the road. They also threatened our lives.
“They did all these things to us without any reason. We were just moving along the road because we are non-violent agitators. We were not caught with any weapon, we were only moving peacefully with our flags. We are calling on the entire world to come to our rescue. We have been caged by the Nigerian government and we cannot move freely.
In their separate opinions, a member of the council of Elder of Ebonyi South zone, Mr. Sunday Ezaka and the zonal leader of Ebonyi North, Mr. Nwamini Vincent wonder why the Nigerian government was always after them instead of putting their resources towards curbing the menace of Boko Haram and Fulani 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 Nigerians 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, Nigeria soldiers were mobilized 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 outside this country. We have not gotten information that anybody was killed, but about four hundred persons were arrested.
“It is a great dismay that anytime MASSOB-BIM is having any function, the police will arrest them. But Boko Haram and herdsmen have been disturbing the peace of the country and nobody is arresting them. We are non-violent. We go without arms and there is no time we can use banners and our flags to destroy lives and properties. We are not terrorists or IPOBS. This is our first new Biafra independence which we have not done before. 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 slave. ”
Police Spokesman in the state, Loveth Odah confirmed the incident but could not give the actual figure of persons arrested.
Security Operatives arrested about 10 members of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, during a rally in Port Harcourt, the headquarters of Rivers State.
The 10 persons are among the hundreds of supporters of Pro-Biafran agitators who had stormed Port Harcourt to mark their 18 years of the existence of MASSOB and BIM.
The Pro-Biafra agitators had commended the procession at Mile Market in Port Harcourt and were heading towards Eleme Junction before they were intercepted around Garrison Junction.
The security men that shot canisters and teargas to disperse the members also arrested ten of the protesters, especially those on military and Civil Defense camouflage.
Speaking, Solomon Chukwu, MASSOB 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. Our coming out is not that we took them unawares. They are aware. We are meant to go to Eleme Junction, but because of their action we stopped here at Garrison. We will follow up the people the have arrested to secure their release.
“I am calling on the FG that MASSOB is none 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 reawaken the call for the creation of the Biafran State.
More than 50 members of BIM were arrested by the police in Aba, Abia State.
BIM had declared May 22 to celebrate the rededication of Biafra by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike at 175 Faulks Road Aba on May 22,2000.
It was gathered that the BIM members were arrested at Osisioma Ngwa junction along the Enugu -Port Harcourt expressway when Police patrol teams numbering over 15 fired tear gas canister 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 rededication 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 MASSOB members arrested by the Police.This is a grave infringement of 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.”
In Cross River State, Samuel Okah, zonal leader of the Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, 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 in Ikom during a parade round major streets of the town by 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.
“You can see the flags, the anthem, the zeal of the people that there are no more interested in the Nigeria nation where they have experienced nothing other than injustice, oppression and nepotism so it is time for the leaders of Nigeria to know that we reached the time God designed for us to be independent” Okah said
From Lagos, 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 takes off in history for a proper and undeniable beginning of the New-Biafra before the international community when Chief Ralph Uwazurike, 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 stated.