ACROSS the South-South and South-East states on Monday, 159 arrests were made by the police as members of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) celebrated the “Biafra Independence Day.”
The police in Enugu State arrested about 41 members of the Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led MASSOB for allegedly attempting to march on major streets of the metropolis to celebrate the day.
It was gathered that the separatists were picked up by the law-enforcement agents at Ziks Avenue and Nigeria Prisons Quarters, Enugu, where they gathered to kick-start the celebration.
Spokesman of the pro-Biafra group, christened “Biafra Independence Movement (BIM),’’ John Nnamani, told reporters in Enugu that they would not be intimidated by the police clampdown on their members, stressing that they would continue to fight until an independent state of Biafra was realised.
On the May 30 sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamani said their leader, Chief Uwazuruike, had since disassociated his organisation (BIM) from the order.
Chief Uwazuruike speaking on the arrest, asked the police to immediately release those arrested, adding that his group was not violent.
But the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amarizu, said the arrest followed security reports, adding that their protest was capable of causing crises in the state.
“No fewer than 41 persons suspected to be members of the BIM were nabbed by the security operatives of the command from various parts of Enugu metropolis based on intelligence information that they were to conduct themselves in a manner likely to cause the breach of peace,” he said.
Business activities paralyse in Owerri
Activities within the Owerri, Imo State capital and its environs were paralysed by members of the splinter group of MASSOB, the BIM, who stormed the major roads and streets of the city.
The protesters, who arrived in buses from the 27 local government areas of the state with Biafra flags and posters bearing various inscriptions depicting commitment to Biafra state, wore military uniforms and chanted Biafran songs and solidarity slogans.
The protesters arrived the Douglas road by 8.00 a.m. from where they moved to the popular Ama JK junction, Wetheral road, Tetlow road, Royce Road, Bank road and Okigwe road.
In a telephone chat with the Nigerian Tribune, Uwazuruike claimed responsibility for the protest, saying it was organised to prove his commitment to the actualisation of the Biafra project.
Police arrest MASSOB leader, 46 others in C/River
The Cross River State leader of MASSOB, Mr Samuel Okah, along with 46 members of the group were arrested by the state police command.
Nigerian Tribune learnt that members of the group arrested were indigenes of Cross River, Ebonyi and Enugu states.
One of the members, who did not want his name in print, told newsmen at the police headquarters in Calabar, the state capital, that the rally was a peaceful march meant to create awareness about the existence of the group in the state.
Confirming the arrest, the state Police Public Relations Office, Irene Ugbo, said 47 members of the group were arrested at Odukpani junction and brought to the state command in Calabar for interrogation.
Police disperse rally in Port Harcourt
The police had hectic time with the protesters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as they seized the ‘Biafra flag’ and dispersed precession by MASSOB at Government Craft Centre Bus Stop on Aba Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers Staty.
MASSOB members were seen on the streets of Port Harcourt decked in light sky-blue uniform with the flag.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that policemen had taken positions at strategic locations in the metropolis as early as 7.30 a.m.
‘Biafra Day’ paralyses Onitsha
The celebration paralysed social and economic activities in Onitsha, Anambra State, on Monday.
Members MASSOB -BIM occupied major streets of Onitsha hoisting ‘Biafra’ flags.
Some members who came from Nnewi, Awkuzu, Ogidi, Nkpor and Aguleri were seen moving on foot, in cars, tricycles and motorcycles which slowed down vehicle and human traffic.
Addressing the members, the Anambra North Zonal leader of MASSOB-BIM, Mr Vincent Iloh, reiterated the resolve of the group to sustain the agitation through peaceful means.
Meanwhile, the celebration did not record any casualty as of the time of filing this report, as policemen, joint task force of the military police, men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were seen parading the streets to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.
50 arrested in Ebonyi
In Ebonyi, 50 of the pro-Biafra agitators were arrested on their way from Ohaukwu, the path from Enugu to Abakaliki and also at Onueke, a town in the state.
The police arrested the members while on their way to join the MASSOB rally in the state capital.
John Nwifuru, leader of the group in Ebonyi, said those arrested would be released, adding that he had spoken with the police authorities on the matter.
21 arrested in Delta
In Delta, hundreds of Biafran agitators, under the aegis of the MASSOB/BIM) were dispersed with tear-gas by policemen in Asaba, the state capital.
The coordinator of the group in Delta Central, Berry Akujinwa and over 20 others were said to have been arrested.
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