From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
no fewer than 150 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), as well as their supporters, have allegedly been in detention across the country.
The pro-Biafran agitators were allegedly arrested either during rallies, processions, meetings, protests or just walking along the roads. They have been detained in various police cells, prisons and DSS cells across the country. Some have spent one year in detention; in some cases they have spent as long as 10 years in detention, awaiting trial.
For those of them that sustained injuries, proper attention and treatment have allegedly not been given to them, thereby making their health conditions very critical and in sorry state and in urgent need of medical attention.
The prolonged detention without trial angered the Biafran National Guard (BNG), which last week petitioned the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Salami (SAN) over the detention of 21 pro-Biafran agitators without trial since 2007.
The group alleged that the 21 freedom fighters had for the past 10 years been incarcerated and languishing in prison custody, awaiting trials in Onitsha and Awka. They were neither granted bail nor did their cases receive serious adjudication since they were arrested.
In the petition signed by BNG Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ruben Okoro, the group accused the Director of Public Prosecutions and judges of prolonging the cases without serious hearing on the matter due to long adjournments.
The petition stated in part: “Since 2007 till today, none of the detainees have been given audience, fair hearing, justice and judgement. They denied the applications for bail by all the defendants till date.”
“Now almost all of them have lost heir parents, children and relations since 2007 while awaiting trial without witnessing the burials of such close relations. For instance one of the detained Biafrans, Innocent Orji, lost his father in 2012 and his mother in 2016.”
The leader of MASSOB, Comrade Uchenna Madu, while speaking with Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state on the matter, urged him to intervene and secure the immediate release of members of the group incarcerated since 2007 in Onitsha and Awka prisons.
“MASSOB as a non-violent organization should not be subjected to such ridicule and incarceration when Fulani herdsmen wielding and using dangerous weapons against the citizens of the federation are pampered.
“The plight of 21 members of MASSOB who have spent 10 years in Nigerian detention custody on frivolous charge of treasonable felony and murder need urgent attention as their health condition is daily worsening. Of this number, 15 members need urgent medical attention. We insist on justice and demand their immediate release because spending 10 years in detention as awaiting trial inmates without being tried amounts to abortion of justice,” he stated.
He said that among the 21 detained members are a crippled man and two females. He lamented that they were abandoned in the prison yard to rot away for being MASSOB members.
Madu said that several adjournments recorded in the ongoing court cases of the detained members have been a calculated method to frustrate their release at the Federal High Court, Awka and the State High Court, Onitsha.
MASSOB appealed to Obiano, human rights and civil society organizations and other progressive Igbo leaders to intervene and secure the release of the detainees because of their aged parents, who are still alive and have been subjected to psychological trauma. The group noted many of the detainees were breadwinners of their families, stressing that their prolonged detention had caused many of their children to drop out of school.
Also the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emma Powerful, in his reaction alleged that about 127 of the group’s members including its leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, have been detained in the cells of various security agencies and prisons across the country.
Giving insight to the situation, Powerful stated that an IPOB member, Moses Agbo was arrested by DSS and detained in Abuja when he visited Kuje Prison last year while Ndubuidi Okoh Arum a.k.a High Chief was arrested at Ogbor-Hill Aba. He said Bright Chimezie was detained at DSS HQ Abuja after he was arrested in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Furthermore, he said that Justice O. Udeh, was arrested in Igweocha, Port Harcourt during the pro-Trump rally and then held at DSS headquarters, Abuja.
He listed the names of IPOB activists who were detained at Ogwuashi-Uku Prison, after they were arrested at Nkpor Anambra state on May 30, 2015 and then charged with murder at the Federal High Court Asaba as follows: Ifeanyi Ani, Anyemene Dickson, Obiakwunwa Chisom, Emeghelu Harrison, Izuchukwu Okpara, Joseph Iheanyichu, Chigozie Guru.
Powerful also gave the names of those members missing whether alive or dead as Chigozie Nwodo, Onyeka Chukwuekwe, Onuoha Jude Nnamdi, Daniel Kalu Uka, Ifeanyichukwu Kalu and Chinedu Igbokwe, saying that Jude Moses and Ifeanyi Iroanya who were arrested at Igweocha on January 20, 2017.
The IPOB spokesman said that those in prisons and have been charged to court for treasonable felony include: Victory Ngozi, Shedrack Moses, Godwin Philip, Chimezie Nwankwo, Prophet Samuel, Keerubari Notaya, Ugochukwu Oguba, Okechukwu Okorie, Nzubechukwu Onyeka, Chijindum Chibunna, Chima Okenwo, Chinedu Friday, Kenneth Agbor, George Orjiji, China Useh, Jude Nwebe, Shedrack Uba and Atonime Monday.
Others include: Moses Isaiah, Nwankwo Chikere, Chibuchi Okeke, Tony Igbokwe, Baco Johnson, Sunday Eze, Cosmos Monday, Emmanuel Nnamani, Ofonime Michael, Ibeabuchi Sunday, Moses Okon, Okite Sunday, Chizoba Obi, Anthony Nwaobi, Augustine Okoro, Anurum Prince, Nwaobi Obiakor, Chinonso Obani, Chijioke Godwin, Chinonso Kalu and Onyekachi Njoku. Others include: Chisom Livinus, Adoga Idagu, Okereke Chukwuemeka, Aniete Okon, Sanusi Geoffrey, Nwankwo Chikere, Uchenna Nwuzor, Udeh Christopher, Monday saviour, Onuenyi Basil, Nwiuko Kingdom, Asikeme Daniel, Ngwa Ifeanyi Christian, Edet Bassey Okon, Okon Edet and Otoko Robert James
Powerful further stated that members held at Igweocha, Port Harcourt, Rivers State since November 15, 2015 at the Maximum prison without trial to include Akaninyene Uwem, Chinomere Nwolu, Igodo Abio, Wori Endurance, Ukeme Monday, Ezenwa Aphostus, Friday Uzunnwa, Chibuzor Elechina, Enam David, Ogbonna Godwill, Uchechukwu Illoh, Udochukwu Nelson and Nnamani Emmanuel, noting that Cosmos George has been held in solitary confinement by the DSS.
According to him, those held in the cells of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Rivers Police Commmand, Port-Harcourt, include: Victor Tasie, Ndubuisi, Henry Chukwudi, Ogbugbada Chima, Augustine Uka, Chukwuma Ichendu, Emmanuel Mathias, Goodnews Loveday, Ekene Owen, Best Peter, Goodlick Nwogbakata, Chris Victor, Chinedu Kalu, Chilacho , Emmanuel Malbor, Prince Alozie, Chukwulenwa Irobodo, Udoka Nwali, Chidi Ugwuebula, Udonna Nwaegbu and Moses Alison.
Others are Victor Kingsley, Junior Alero, Ugochukwu Njoku, Tochukwu Nwari, Monday Duru, Chukwu Nonye Egunsi, Meneakeiga Papilo, Stanley Daniel, Smith Hardy, David West, Chibuko Napoleon, Godwin Paul, Kingsley Michael, Nelson Akpan, Mady Chuso, Promise and Henry, who were arrested alongside with Justice Udeh at Igweocha and taken to DSS headquarters in Abuja.
Some of MASSOB-BIM members who were arrested, detained and later released by courts alleged that military men who arrested them tortured them before they were handed over to the DSS and police in 2010 and 2011.
Sunday Iloekwe said that he was arrested with 14 others in 2011 on their way to Okigwe, Imo State, when soldiers at a checkpoint at Oji River junction in Enugu State stopped the vehicle they were traveling in because it had a Biafran flag. They were ordered to get out of the bus.
“They asked us where we were going and why we were carrying Biafran flag. They told us to move into the bush, where they told us to lie down. They tied our hands with rope behind our back. Then they told us to come out and lie down under the hot sun. So, after some time their van came and took us to 82 Division Enugu where we were tortured and then taken to the SSS office at the back of the place. After taking our statements, they took us to SCID, where we stayed for two months and one week. Later, we were taken to court and the judge granted us bail,” Iloekwe recalled.
Another member, Michael Otta Okoh, said that he had been arrested and detained two times at the Central Police Station, Onitsha, and SARS office in Awka, saying that the first one was in 2010 where 12 of them were arrested and taken to SARS, Awka.
He also stated that he was arrested with 400 members with Chief Ralph Uwazuruike in 2011 but the court later granted them bail while he was arrested again in 2012 with a Biafran uniform and detained in CPS Onitsha police station and later released.
In the case of Chinekwu Eze, he was arrested at Aguata on May 30, 2016 as he was going to attend a rally at Nkpor and taken to Umuchu police station from there he ended up at SCID Awka before being arraigned at Aguata Magistrate court.
“We were remanded in Ekwulowbia prison. They seized all our items such as phones, memory cards, clothes, 500,000 Biafran pounds which they didn’t returne to us when we were granted bail, till date,” Eze said.