From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Former president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and convener of South East Elders Forum, Dr Dozie Ikedife, has condemned the recent arrest and detention of members of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) in some parts of the South East, South South and Delta regions while observing the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra.
Expressing his displeasure over the arrest and detention of the Biafra agitators, Ikedife who spoke with Sunday Sun in Nnewi, Anambra State, called for their immediate release, stressing that there was no report confirming that they bore arms while demonstrating.
His words: “Information coming from various centres suggest that the Biafra agitators held the first leg of their celebration of 50 years of Biafra Independence declaration anniversary in 1967, in various parts of Biafra land. And the reports were that they were all peaceful movement, peaceful demonstration and peaceful parading, marching and singing songs along the streets.
“It is surprising, therefore, that we also heard that these people who were not armed, not noisy, and were not obstructing anybody, were arrested. If that report is correct, then one doubts the justification for it. One would wonder whether there is any law against free movement of people who are not armed, not disturbing the peace of the environment or harassing anybody.
“To that extent, I will say that the federal and the state authorities that authorized the arrest should explain to the populace the reason for the arrest.”
Ikedife insisted that if those who were behind the arrest of the MASSOB/BIM members could not adduce a good reason for their action, then they should release all of them immediately, adding that the detainees still have right to freedom of association, movement and speech.
He spoke further: “And I don’t think they were preaching anything like ethnic hatred, anarchy or anything likely to cause the breach of peace. So, in the absence of all these, let them be released unconditionally and be allowed to go home. And if they are detained further, when they are released, they can sue for wrongful detention,” the elder statesman said.
He noted that Fulani herdsmen who allegedly attack, sack villages, maim and rape innocent women, were never arrested or harassed for committing such atrocities.
“I feel suspicious that when individuals are not allowed to carry powerful guns like the AK47 assault rifle and yet we see photographs suggesting that Fulani herdsmen carry these dangerous guns and I wonder whether they are licensed. I have never heard that any of those herdsmen was charged to court for bearing such arms and for wrongful use of such arms. It is a sign of double standard. It gives the impression that there are people who are above the law. Or that such people can get away with anything they do,” Ikedife said.