...No, only 13 people were arrested – Police
Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
No fewer than 125 members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) were allegedly arrested, on Thursday, while many others allegedly sustained injuries during a rally to mark the 19th anniversary celebration of the organisation in Anambra State.
A combined team of security personnel from the Nigerian Army, Police, Directorate of State Services (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were said to have stormed the venue of the rally at Ifitedunu in Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state to effect the arrest.
Although, no death was recorded, Chief Arinze Igbani, Biafra Elder-in-Council claimed, in an interview, with newsmen that many of his members sustained various degrees of injuries as a result of alleged assault and subsequent arrest by the security operatives.
According to him, three bus-load conveying MASSOB members including Gen. Innocent Ejioforbiri, the General of Biafra veterans, Anambra South zone and other Biafra war veterans some of whom are octogenarians, were seized by security operatives while returning home from similar celebrations at Uga in Aguata Local Government Area of the state.
He also claimed that two other buses were destroyed by the security operatives during the raid.
“Today, Anambra State and the Federal Government collaborated to molest Ndigbo who came out to celebrate non-violently, the 19th anniversary of MASSOB.
“This is in spite of the fact that MASSOB/BIM gave huge support for the conduct of governorship elections in the state as against the positions of some elements in 2017.
“The MASSOB/BIM are giving the Federal Government and the state government one week to unconditionally release innocent people who came out to celebrate peacefully.
“If government fails to release them unconditionally within one week, we will organise heavy protest that will shut down the state.
“There is no place in the law anywhere in the world that people should not celebrate,” he said.
He urged members of the organisation to remain calm and peaceful while they await the response of government to its demand.
He also urged the international community to come to its rescue and support its call for the realisation of a state of Biafra.
It could be recalled that MASSOB was inaugurated by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike on September 13, 1999 to further press home the demand for the actualisation of a state of Biafra.
When contacted, the Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command, Garba Umar, dismissed claims by the MASSOB Elder on the actual number of people arrested.
Umar said the police have in their custody 13 MASSOB members who were arrested for blocking the highway and hoisting of flag which he described as ‘unconstitutional’ and would not be tolerated.