JONATHAN ORDERS RELEASE OF UWAZURUIKE, MASSOB MEMBERS FROM DETENTION
Following President Goodluck Jonathan's order that all members of the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) held across the country, particularly in the various prisons and police stations in the South-east be released, those held in Anambra State have regained their freedom.
Over 1,000 MASSOB members were previously held in detention across the country, a number that increased last Wednesday when over 600 of them were arrested as they made their way to the Presidential Hotel, Enugu venue where Igbo youths had gathered to honour Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu; MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and other Igbo leaders.
Daily Sun gathered that with the presidential directive taking effect, the MASSOB leader, Chief Uwazuruike and the other 280 members arrested in Enugu last Wednesday would leave the Enugu Prisons where they were detained on Thursday.
Sources at the Enugu Prison told Daily Sun that the directives to release Uwazuruike and his members without further delay had been received but they had to wait till Thursday because of the public holidays tomorrow and Wednesday.
The presidential order came on the heels of condemnations across Igboland over the incarceration of Uwazuruike and other MASSOB members who had a peaceful gathering to honour their leaders.
Fielding questions from newsmen in Enugu yesterday over the development, former chief judge and past president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Justice Eze Ozobu, disclosed that the presidential order was sequel to the intervention of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim; Ohanaeze President General, Ralph Uwechue; and Chairman, South-east
Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Ilomuanya.
His words: 'The first person I got was Anyim. I told him to go and tell your president that he must tell us what we have done wrong to him; that we did no wrong and we understand government is trying to have a meeting with Boko Haram; that if they ignore the South-east, I do not know what the youths would do.
'That I am sure there is going to be fire. He said I should play it down that I should do all I can to see they do not cause any harm. I told him I would want to know what the Igbo's have done wrong that as a lawyer I was there and I couldn't pin down anything that is criminal or against the law; that I want to know where we went wrong. He promised to do something.
'I later got to know that Ilomuanya met with Uwechue in Abuja; that Senator Uche Chukwumerije met with the inspector-general of police who contacted the president and he ordered that they must be all released by Monday (yesterday).
'I am of the opinion that we take very strong notable Igbos to go ask that man that he must care for us; we've given him what others never gave to him during the election; he said this government is Igbo government. I was one of the seven people he called. If you say that Igbos have helped you, you must show that by reciprocating that gesture.
'He told us that this is government of Igbos, which they did so much, which is true, but he must tell us what we have done wrong in Nigeria. The leader of the OPC in the West moves around on convoy, the Hausas do things with impunity; you can never fault an Igbo man.
'I was told to get in touch with the police commissioner in Enugu and his reaction shows that he has received directives that a judge should release them. We are grateful for that, we thank him but he must get us to know what we should do to ward off the discrimination they paint us with.'
Early in the morning yesterday also, a Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Ben Ogu of the St. Paul Catholic Church, Egbelu-Umuhu, Enyiogugu, Mbaise in Imo State had stormed the Enugu Prisons where he berated leaders of the South-east geopolitical zone for their inability to condemn the ongoing humiliation and marginalisation of the Igbo in the country.
Rev. Ogu, who spoke to newsmen after discussing with the detained MASSOB leader in the Enugu Prisons, urged prominent Igbo men, especially those in government, to speak out against the perceived gross injustice meted out to the people of the South-east.
Fr. Ogu condemned the ill-treatment meted out to the Igbo since the Nigerian civil war ended, pointing out that Nigeria fought against apartheid in South Africa whereas back home it was yet to end apartheid against the Igbo.
'I might go mental if I don't speak up over the humiliation of the Igbo in Nigeria. That is why I am here (Enugu Prisons) that Igbo people should be released from detention. I don't want to be a slave where I should be free; that is why I am here,' he said.