Commotion in Onitsha as army kills 30 pro-Biafra activists
Shooting of unarmed protesters at a church in Onitsha has stirred uproar in the state, Sahara Reporter reports.
There are claims that the Nigerian security agents are battling with pro-Biafra agitators in some parts of Anambra state, especially Onitsha. The signal which was sent to several unit commanders in the Southeastern parts of Nigeria early this morning asked the unit commanders to be on “standby' in case of a breakdown of law and order as pro-Biafra agitators embark on street protests today in the Southeast.
The Nation reports that the celebration of Biafran Day in memory of Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu turned sour Monday, May 30, in Anambra, as the military, police, members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) clashed, killing over 30 persons and injuring many.
It was equally gathered Monday that over 50 members of the Biafran group were arrested by the military and taken to their 302 cantonment in Onitsha. Following the mayhem, the commercial city of Onitsha especially Nkpor axis, was locked down with the security operatives taking over the roads.
Commercial activities were paralyzed as a result, with vehicular movements stopped with burn fires all over the roads. Speaking with reporters Monday on the development, the public relations officer (PRO) of (IPOB), Emma Powerful, alleged that security operatives had killed over 30 members of the group, over 50 others arrested and taken to an unknown destination.
Also, he alleged that many others were seriously injured in the mayhem, adding that the security operatives started arresting their members since 1.30 am when they began their peaceful demonstration. According to him, “they were moving around in their hilux vehicle with a native doctor, when we are celebrating Biafra without any form of weapon, does it mean that we have no right for our fundamental rights,” Emma asked.
When the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in the state Ali Okechukwu was contacted yesterday at about11.55am, he said there was no room to discuss causality figures, adding that they were still busy trying to clear the roads for easy movement. However, an eye witness who spoke with The Nation Monday and a (MASSOB) member said about 32 persons were killed by the navy and military personnel.
The casualties according to him were taken to one of the hospitals at Nkpor but they were rejected, while those killed were driven to the army barracks. For MASSOB and Campaign for Democracy (CD), the action of the security personnel was unfortunate knowing fully well that the group was a harmless one celebrating the declaration of Biafra on May 30th, 1967 in memory of late Ojukwu.
The leader of MASSOB, Comrade Uchenna Madu, told reporters that federal government should look into the mayhem with a view to arresting the situation, adding that his group was not involved. However, he warned that if Ndigbo were pushed to the wall by security personnel that they would have no other option than to take to arms, which according to him would make Nigeria be in flames.
Madu, further said that the federal government was negotiating with Boko-haram and Niger Delta militants while the security continued to fight the people without arms and they were keeping quite. He said he ordered his men to mark Ojukwu's day by staying indoors and not march on the streets, adding that those in the streets were not (MASSOB) members rather (IPOB).
Speaking with The Nation the (Ogirishi Ndigbo) spiritual leader, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, described the situation as unfortunate. He said when he was contacted by the group about the peaceful protest; he advised them to use his Rojenny stadium instead of the streets, adding that they told him that they had secured a place at Nkpor already to mark the Biafran day. However, he condemned the alleged killing of Ndigbo, adding that nobody had the right to kill people if it actually happened, but emphatically, said he was not aware of the killings.
Furthermore, he said if there should be a form of protest, that the people should get permit from the security men, adding that he had earlier advised to maintain peace in such situation. The Nation gathered from one of the eye witnesses at Nkpor that the anger of the military was that one of its men was killed during the shootout. The national publicity secretary of campaign for democracy (CD) Dede-Uzor-Dede, told reporters Monday that the federal government should arrest those involved in the killings of the harmless youths with a view to bringing them to justice.
This, according to him was in line with chapter 4; section 33 to 41 which centered on fundamental human rights and in line with the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. “There are freedom of association, movement among others, people's rights of protest peacefully should be allowed, the sanctity of people's rights is sacrosanct and total in its ramifications,” he said. CD therefore warned that the era of killing Ndigbo youth must stop by the security operatives.