Police, Biafra group disagree over arrest of 57 agitators

IGP Baba The acting Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba Police Trust Fund Abuja Jos
The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba

The Police and a pro-Biafra group have disagreed on the arrest of agitators in Enugu, Enugu State on Sunday.

The group, Biafra Zionists Federation (BZF), had alleged that policemen from Ogui Division in Enugu stormed their meeting venue and whisked away 57 of its members.

But, the police Command spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, said 57 agitators were invited for questioning but freed when nothing incriminating was found on them.

Earlier yesterday, the pro-Biafra groups were cautioned by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, against beating war drums in Igboland.

FILE PHOTO: Ex-Biafran soldiers
FILE PHOTO: Ex-Biafran soldiers

The sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) was, however, partially observed in Anambra, Abia, and Imo states.

BZF Leader Benjamin Onwuka said: “They arrested 57 of our members this (Sunday) morning. We were preparing to go for our Biafra parade.

“We are non-violent people; we are peaceful agitators. They should be released immediately, unconditionally, without charge; they committed no crime.”

But Ndukwe denied the arrest, saying the 57 agitators gathered unlawfully at Owerri Road in Ogui and were taken to the Police command headquarters for questioning.

“After nothing incriminating was found on them, the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, addressed and cautioned them to go home and maintain peace. They all left happily,” the police spokesman explained.

Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu, the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra, stands in front of a Biafra flag
Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Emeka Ojukwu, the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra, stands in front of a Biafra flag

Also in Enugu, Most Rev. Onaga advised IPOB members to shun acts capable of plunging Igboland into another war.

The Bishop said during the Most Holy Trinity Mass at the Holy Ghost Cathedral that Ndigbo did not gain anything in the 1967-1970 civil war but deaths and misery.

His words: “It’s unfortunate that those who witnessed the civil war in 1967-1979 are not up to 20 percent of the Igbo population. Even amongst us here in this church, we are not up to 10 that were born before 1967. So, you may not understand what Ndigbo suffered during that war.

“During that war, we lost millions of people. We lost our means of livelihood. We cannot afford another war. Let our youths stop beating the drums of war and calm down a little.

“We must be patient with ourselves and governments. Everything will be right with time.

“I tell you, we are more productive when we are quiet and calm.”

He expressed worry over the news that over 3,000 policemen had been deployed in Enugu State, saying the action was not in good faith.

Onaga called on Igbo leaders to do everything to discourage the youth from causing more crisis in the region.

Also, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned what it described as the reign of anarchy in the Southeast.

It advised IPOB not to let itself become an agent provocateur for turning Igboland into a war zone.

HURIWA said only an insane child would put his father’s house on fire over certain grievances caused by external forces.

The group also accused the police and soldiers of shooting indiscriminately in some towns like Orlu, Owerri, Umuahia, and Abia without provocation.

It described the action as tantamount to the enforcement of the shoot-on-sight order which President Muhammadu Buhari gave to the Armed Forces.

Our correspondents who monitored the sit-at-home order in Anambra, Imo and Abia reported that some churches held services while business activities and movements were skeletal.

In Anambra State, many traders did not display their wares in many markets while many new generation churches did not conduct services.

Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) leader, Uchenna Madu, however, told The Nation that some churches that conducted services, prayed for the repose of fallen Biafra heroes

Madu mentioned the Catholic, Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Apostolic, Grace of God as some of the churches.

He said: “ MASSOB maintains that tomorrow being Monday will climax this year’s Biafra anniversary celebration with a sit at home exercise.

“It is an honor to our fatherland. The exercise is a unanimous massage to the international communities that the people of Biafra speaks with one voice.”

Earlier, the state government had announced a ban on operators of commercial tricycles, buses, and motorcycles. They are not to operate between 7 pm-6 am.

It said in a circular by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, that it had mobilised youths to assist the Police and other security agencies to enforce the ban.

In Imo State, there were scanty economic activities but Christians trooped out to attend normal Sunday service.

At Ikenegbu, a few shops left their doors half-open for fear of being attacked even though there was a heavy police presence in most parts of the state capital.

Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state, Eches Divine, said they held the service to pray for peace in the state.

“As you know, today is CAN Imo day of prayer. We are praying for Imo State today for peace in the land,” he added.

There were church services and normal business activities in Abia State but inter-state transporters stayed off the roads.

Security was however beefed up around Umuahia, the capital of the state and Aba, the commercial nerve of the state.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Igbo Youth Stakeholders Forum has expressed worry over attacks on security agencies, killings, and destruction of public properties in the country, especially in the south.

It urged aggrieved parties to sheathe their swords and give chance to dialogue.