No fewer than a thousand members of separatist group Movement of Actualization Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were detained on Tuesday by security authorities in Nsukka.
The members – wearing Biafra uniforms and caps emblazoned with the Biafra flag – were marching towards Nsukka town to celebrate 17 years of the movement, when they were intercepted at Ede-Oballa, about two kilometers to Nsukka by combined team of soldiers and police.
Members, comprising men, women, the aged and the young, were later freed and directed to go home after negotiation between security and leaders of the movement.
Speaking with newsmen, the Zonal Leader of Enugu senatorial zone of MASSOB Mr. James Omeke, said the movement was celebrating the 17 year anniversary of the movement under the leadership of Chief Ralph Uwazurike.
“When they stopped us, our members numbering about 1000 were searched and no arms or any dangerous weapon was found from anybody.
“We stayed there for about three hours before they told us to go home knowing that the march was non-violent and peaceful,” he said.
The zonal leader said the movement anticipated that the celebration would be interrupted by security, adding they were not afraid because the movement has always been non-violent.
He said members were drawn from six region that made of Enugu North senatorial zone and one thousand from each region were expected to participate on the celebration.
He also called on the United Nations to “expedite action towards conducting a referendum,” on Biafran independence.
When contacted on the detentions, Police Public Relation officer Mr. Ebere Amaraizu said the marchers were prevented from entering Nsukka town to avoid any breach of the peace.
“Yes I am aware some member of MASSOB marching to Nsukka town to celebrate 17 years anniversary were stopped at Ede-Oballa by security agents, the aim is to avoid any breach of peace.
“They were stopped from entering Nsukka town and sent back home because they are peaceful, non-violent and no dangerous weapons found from them during the march,” he said.