Wednesday, 2 December 2015

SHOCKING! 13 killed 20 injured, worship centre, vehicles burnt in Onitsha as Biafra protests turn bloody

13 killed as Biafra protests turn bloody

20 injured, worship centre, vehicles burnt in Onitsha Police begin prosecution of 137 protesters, warn MASSOB, IPOB The agitations by pro-Biafra groups turned violent yesterday in Onitsha, the commercial centre of Anambra State, as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) took to the streets. No fewer than 13 protesters were killed while 20

    20 injured, worship centre, vehicles burnt in Onitsha
    Police begin prosecution of 137 protesters, warn MASSOB, IPOB

The agitations by pro-Biafra groups turned violent yesterday in Onitsha, the commercial centre of Anambra State, as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) took to the streets. No fewer than 13 protesters were killed while 20 others sustained injuries during the protest. A religious centre was torched while nine trucks belonging to a conglomerate were burnt. Several vehicles were vandalised by the rampaging protesters.

New Telegraph learnt that the killing of four IPOB members sparked the violent protest. The four people were allegedly killed by soldiers at 1:30a.m. yesterday at the Niger Bridge end of Onitsha, where they had used as rallying point during the Tuesday’ protest.

A lady was also said to have been shot dead by some security agents on patrol at the busy Onitsha/ Owerri road. The pro-Biafra agitators became violent when the news of the killing of four IPOB members became public.

An eyewitness said the protesters resorted to violence, vandalising vehicles and other valuables as they protested the killing along the major roads in Onitsha making bonfires. Bonfires were made at Old and New Market Roads, Ogbommanu Junction, Savoy, Nkpor Junction, Afor-Nkpor, Bridge Head, Oguta Road among others.

The protests forced banks, markets and business centres to be shut. Some miscreants took advantage of the situation to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens. The protesters also called for the release of Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Namdi Kanu.

Speaking on the protest, IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful, said the protest became bloody after military officers killed four members of the group. Powerful said: “The soldiers killed four of our men at the Bridge Head Market about 1:30a.m. on Wednesday without committing any offence. “The soldiers came with the police, civil defence, Department of State Services (DSS) and attacked our men because we are non-violent body.

“We will continue the protest in Onitsha tomorrow (today) unless the Director of Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, is released by President Muhammadu Buhari who does not want anything good from the Igbo people.” The protest, according to the National Coordinator of the group, Mr. Chidiebere Onwudiwe, will hold today in Awka, the Anambra State capital, Enugu and Ebonyi states.

The grand protest will take place on Friday in Abuja. Security agents had since taken over Onitsha. The Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has dissociated itself from the Onitsha protest. Acting leader of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu, in a statement said: “The setting ablaze of a religious centre, vehicles and making of burning fires, which depict violence were not done by members of IPOB or MASSOB under my leadership.

“These unwarranted acts of violence are perfected by hoodlums sponsored by agents of Federal Government to create impression that we are violent, hence they sponsored violence against us.” Madu added that: “We have been on this peaceful demonstration and protest for over a month without any act of violence. How can we now resort to violence now that we are told that the presidency is about negotiating with leaders of pro-Biafra groups?”

Meanwhile, the Police have begun the prosecution of 137 members of MASSOB and IPOB. Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase, made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday. “What I can assure you is that we will not allow any group to disturb the peace of this country. We will clamp down on them, we will deal with them, we will prosecute them. Already, we have about 137 of them who are undergoing prosecution across the length and breadth of the South-East and we will continue to do that.” Also, Arase, has, for the umpteenth time, read the Riot Act to protesting members of MASSOB as well as IPOB.

The IGP, in a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mrs. Olabisi Kolawole, an Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), warned that the Police will activate their constitutionally- guaranteed mandate of subduing all internal threats to peace and public order.

He insisted that the protesters were testing the will of the force by their “increasing resort to acts of brigandage.” He maintained in a civil society, groups and individuals must adhere to the dictates of the rule of law in ventilating their grievances, without resorting to self-help. Consequently, Arase has directed Assistant Inspectors- General (AIGs) of Police in charge of Zones 5 (Benin), 6 (Calabar), 9 (Umuahia), as well as Commissioners of Police (CPs) in the affected states, “to, henceforth, maximally exercise their statutory mandate in relation to prevention and disruption of any gathering that threatens public order and national cohesion.”

The statement further disclosed that an order has been issued for the deployment of Police Mobile Force (PMF) personnel across the affected states, ostensibly to arrest any descent to anarchy. Arase “affirmed that no individual or group interest can override the interest of the nation and that democratic values provide for exploration of rule of law to advance any concern, not the resort to endless and misguided acts of brigandage, unless there is an ulterior motive as the extant instance tends to dictate.”

In a related development, representatives of Northern Council of Traditional Rulers and their South-East counterparts yesterday met in Owerri, the Imo State capital, to discuss the issues surrounding the renewed pro-Biafra protests and agitations for a sovereign state of Biafra, among other issues.

During a visit to Governor Rochas Okorocha, chairman of the coordinating committee of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar (Etsu Nupe), said they had come to meet with the South East Traditional Council leaders at the instance of His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, to discuss the issue of agitation by Pro-Biafra groups and to find the reasons for this renewed agitations and how the situation can be arrested.

Others from the North were, Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Mustapha Agwai, who is the chairman of Nasarawa State Council of traditional Rulers; Emir of Fika, HRH Alhaji Abali Mohammadu, who is the Chairman of Yobe State Council of Traditional Rulers, and Gwom Gwom Jos, Alhaji Buba Gyang, Chairman of Plateau State Council of Traditional Rulers.

The South-East Traditional Rulers were led to the meeting by Eze Ebere Dick, who is also the chairman of the Abia State Council of Traditional Rulers; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe; Chairman of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Agunwa Ohiri; Chairman Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Eze Dr. Agom Eze, chairman, Ebonyi State Council of Traditional Rulers were at the meeting.