The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has advised youths in Nigeria’s South-east region to always resort to non-violent means in the course of their agitation.
This advice came from the Abia Central Zone MASSOB-BIM Zonal Information Director, Anselm Ogbonna, who insisted that nothing good on earth can be achieved through violence.
Ogbonna stated this on Wednesday during an event held at Umuezeoke Ngwu autonomous community in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State.
He, however, maintained that Biafra, as it stands, is a divine agenda which would be actualised at the appropriate time.
He said, “We will not separate violently because we will need Nigeria and Nigeria will need us. So even if we are going, the relationship will remain.”
“I am using this opportunity to advise youths to always use non-violent agitation in their pursuit of Biafra struggle because nothing good on earth is achieved through violence,” he added.
The director also reminded the youths that Dr Ralph Uwazuruike, the chief crusader of Biafra struggle, resurrected the campaign in September 1999 through non-violence and also vowed to actualise Biafra non-violently.
The former Chief Security Officer to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Nwazuruike, on Monday met in Kaduna to broker peace over the quit notice issued the Igbos to leave the northern region.
The meeting which was organised at the instance of Major Al-Mustapha was to intervene in the impasse that followed the recent call by northern youth organisations on Igbos resident in the north to leave the region.
Claiming that the northern youths may have been sponsored by countries that are keen to destabilise Nigeria, Major Al-Mustapha called on them to avoid being used to cause a crisis in the country.
He said, “We are appealing that our younger ones who have been declared wanted should be set free, and the order of arrest should be rescinded because it is not the solution.
Speaking also, MASSOB leader said politicians were behind the problems in the country and that they were manipulating Nigerians.
“The youth must not allow that; the country must continue to exist as one nation but issues of marginalisation can be discussed,” he said.
Nwazurike explained that when he founded MASSOB in 1999, it was purely meant to be a peaceful platform through which issues of perceived marginalisation of the Igbo’s in Nigeria could be discussed and tackled.
He explained that even though it was right for any part of the country to seek self-determination, it was wrong to pursue same through violent means.
“I handed over Radio Biafra which I created to Nnamdi Kanu in London as the Managing Director and was hoping it would serve the purpose for which it was created, but was disappointed that politicians hijacked it and it became something else,” he said.
Speaking further, the MASSOB leader assured northerners in the eastern part of the country of their safety, while thanking Major Al-Mustapha for assuring Igbos in the north of their safety.
“I want to assure northerners that your people in the South East are safe and nobody will harass them and I am happy that my friend Al-Mustapha has also given same assurance of the safety of our people in the north.
“Self-determination without violence is a fundamental right; we must strive against sowing the seeds of discord but do all that will promote peace and justice.
“There is a gap of communication from our leaders which needs to be bridged, hence we are meeting with notable leaders in the north to persuade them that there is no cause for alarm.”
In compliance with the sit-at-home directive by the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB and MASSOB to mark the 50th anniversary of Biafra, economic activities in Owerri, the Imo State capital, has been crippled showing total compliance to the directives.
Even though there was the movement of persons and vehicles on major roads, markets – especially the Popular Ekeonuwa Douglas market, shops and business premises remained under lock and key.
While some banks were closed for business, some offered skeletal services to customers.
A visit to the Imo State Secretariat showed that it’s not business as usual.
In the neighboring city of Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, there was partial compliance, as the Abakpa Market, the city’s main market, was opened but most shops remained closed at the time of this report.
Many of the traders were seen gathered in front of their shops discussing the situation.
As they noticed that those who flouted the order and opened their shops were not being molested, some of them summoned the courage to start opening their shops.
However, major private transporters in the city shut down their parks in compliance with the directive by MASSOB and IPOB.
Most banks also shut their doors to customers who thronged to the banks.
But they would later start opening their doors after observing the security measures by the Police who were seen in all parts of the state and on patrol to ensure the security of lives and property.
Thesit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra and MASSOB to mark Biafra Day, on Tuesday disrupted activities in the South East with markets and businesses shut in major cities as residents stayed at home.
While activities and movement were noticed in some of the states, it was not business as usual.
Here is a look at what parts of Imo, Abia, and Enugu states look like as a result of the order.
The Cross River Police Command has intercepted the leader of the Movement for The Actualization for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in Odukpani Local Government of the state along with 46 other members.
According to the State’s Commissioner of Police, Hafiz Inuwa, the command got intelligence report that following their meeting in Ikom Local Government Area of the state, they had wanted to proceed to Calabar.
According to the CP, the command following the intelligence moved and stopped the group before reaching the metropolis to prevent the breach of peace.
Inuwa further revealed that “Upon questioning then, the group was brought to the State Command Headquarters for questioning upon which they will be released if their intentions are lawful as no weapon was found on them.”
Police have arrested a suspect in Abia State allegedly involved in repackaging of expired food products.
Described as a worrisome act, the police said Nnenna Sunday, 28, has perfected the act of using chemicals to erase batch production numbers and expiry dates on snacks.
It is an act that endangers the lives of the buyers of the expired products, but yet reinforces the need for everyone to check well before buying any food product.
“My Hands Are Clean”
After her arrest, she claimed to be innocent and obeying the orders of her boss.
“I did not do anything. They have been doing it before I came. I am not the first or the second. I do not understand this type of temptation.
“My hands are clean. Police saw us wiping out the expiry dates on the snacks and it is my oga (boss) that asked me to do it because that is how he has been doing it before he employed me,” the suspect said.
She further claimed to have joined the company recently and do not know the boss very well, but many onlookers at the scene questioned what her conscience had told her while she engaged in the act.
The arrest, according to the police was part of its determination to continue the implementation of the anti-crime strategies which are proactive in nature and geared towards ensuring a safe and secured environment for inhabitant of Abia State.
The Abia State Police Command that made the arrest reiterated its readiness to sustain the fight against heinous criminal activities by improving on the existing security strategies which include visibility policing, raiding of criminal hideouts, intelligence led policing amongst many others.
While parading the lady and other suspects in Umuahia arrested by the state police command, the Commissioner of Police, Adeleye Oyebade, told reporters that some were suspected fraudsters.
He disclosed that the Area commanders, Divisional Police Officers and all specialised outfit in the command had been reminded to re-invigorate and re-engineer the aggressive anti-crime strategies to ensure a free environment.
Mr Adeleye called on every citizen to partner with the police to maintain a peaceful atmosphere and warned that procession from any group in whatever name would not be tolerated in the state as the fundamental right of all citizens must be protected.
This is coming just as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) had staged a rally they said was to support ‘their man’, President Donald Trump.
“I want to appreciate all those that are partnering with the police, I have said it that we are going to practice reassurance policing.
“It is part of reassurance policing that the members of the public gives us information and we use the information to combat the crime and menace of armed robbers on the highways,
“I want to encourage everybody to be security conscious. Security is everybody’s business. Please, feel free to report any strange face or movement to the nearest police.
“I am also using this opportunity to warn on the members of the Movement for Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and IPOB to ensure that they do not come out to negate the constitutional provision of this country called Nigeria.
“This is because they can never be a republic within a republic. Therefore the Nigeria Police would continue to ensure that all the law abiding citizens that upheld the tenets of freedom of movement do not use such to disrupt the movement of other persons or people in the same society,” he stated.
I Took It As Scrap
The Police Commissioner further reassure all residents of safety of their lives and property, saying they were statutory responsibility of the police.
“We shall continue to do that to ensure that business thrive in Abia State and to ensure that the existing peace is not compromise,” he promised.
Some of the suspects specialised in stealing Enugu Electricity Distribution cables from the transformer while some were members of a gang of notorious criminals terrorising Elughu Nkporo Ohafia Local Government Area.
Ogbonna Ifegwu, who is a 40-year-old man, allegedly stole components of am vandalised EEDC transformer.
He said: “I sell scraps so when I saw the cables on a damaged transformer, I removed it thinking that it was not useful. I took it as a scrap”.
One of the notorious gangster, Nkeiru John Onuoha, claimed that they did not commit any crime.
“We did not commit any crime, what happen is that after the local government election held in December 2016, we decided to hang around to collect our money from one “Skypo”, that was how we were arrested,
“I am not a thief. I live in Lagos. I just came back during the Christmas,” he claimed.
The arrests of the criminals, according to the police led to recovering of huge amounts of money and guns from suspects. Police said all the 25 paraded suspects, on completion of investigation, would be charged.
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and its sister organisation, Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), are asking the police to release one of their members, Mr Eze Israel.
The groups conveyed their request to the Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police in charge of Zone Nine, Hassan Karma, whom they want to intervene and order the Anambra State Police Command to release their member.
According to MASSOB-BIM Zonal Information Director in Abia Central Zone, Anselem Ogbonna, Mr Israel was nabbed by the Police on December 15, 2016 and dumped at the Awka Central Police Station.
The group said that Israel, who was also the MASSOB and BIM Zonal Information Director of Enugu West and Group Regional Information Director of Oji River in Enugu State, was arrested by the Police on his way to a meeting with their leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, without reason, and had since been languishing in detention.
Ogbonna alerted the AIG that Mr Israel was a diabetic patient and that his condition of health was fast deteriorating. He lamented that although MASSOB and BIM had never been violent, her members were being treated in a brutish manner.
“As at today, he has spent 13 days in the Police custody without trial. All efforts by our men to secure his release have proved abortive, as the Anambra Police command have even refused filing charges.
“His detention brings to mind, the arrest of our members by a combined team of the Army, Police, State Security Service (SSS) in Anambra State on October 22, 2012 whose dead bodies were later found floating on the Ezu River at Amansea Community in Awka North Local Government area on Saturday, January 19, 2013,
“It is alleged that the Police killed them extra-judicially and dumped their corpses in Ezu River,
“I, therefore, call on you AIG Karma to advise the Anambra State Police Command now before it is too late,” he demanded.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, says the Army is yet to identify the sponsors of the deadly Islamic Sect, Boko Haram.
He stated that the Nigerian Army is still investigating to know those financing the terror group, but also hinted of possibility of international links.
Addressing reporters in Imo State during after a meeting with the State’s governor, Mr Rochas Okorocha, LieutenantGeneral Buratai noted that tracking sponsors of terrorist groups was a difficult task.
He said: “Terrorism is a very complex issue. Although we are investigating, it will take years before you reach the sponsors because you must get your facts well “.
However, the COAS said that the Army had contained Boko Haram and reduced the group’s activities to feeble but for unsuccessful attempts at soft targets.
“The Army has contained Boko Haram and the only thing you hear now is failed attempts at soft targets, unlike before when they attack Mosques, Churches and bus stations with high casualties,” the Army Chief said.
While commenting on the outcry over the alleged killing of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), by Soldiers, Buratai, insisted that the pro-Biafra groups were armed during their protests in Onitsha and Anambra State.
He insisted that the Soldiers acted in self defense after the members of the separatist groups opened fire on them during their protest against the continued detention of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu by the Federal Government.
Restating the Army Rule of Engagement, Buratai said that the Army had the responsibility to preserve and protect lives and could only resort to lethal force after it had exhausted all options.
“It is impossible for Soldiers to open fire against unarmed protesters.
“The pro-Biafra protesters in Onitsha were armed and they opened fire on the Soldiers and other security agents. Our Soldiers only opened fire after they were shot at,” he isisted.
The COAS during the session of the ongoing 2016 Chief of army staff conference in Owerri also gave details of their latest operation ‘Operation Python Dance’, saying that the military operation was designed to improve internal security and exercises of Officers and Soldiers in the Southeast part of the country.
Giving a breakdown of the operation of the Nigerian Army in the Northeast, Buratai, disclosed that the Army had rescued 360,000 Nigerians, including women and children who were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents.
Responding, the Imo Governor, commended the Nigerian Army for gallantry in the fight against Boko Haram.
He said that the nation owed them for putting their lives on the line to protect Nigerians.
Governor Okorocha who attributed the growing insecurity in the country to poverty, blamed political leaders for failing to create employment opportunities for the teeming youths.
“We cannot win the war against insecurity with force alone. We should also engage the youths meaningfully through the creation of employment,” the Governor stressed.
The 2016 Chief of Army Staff Conference is tagged “consolidating on the gains of counter-insurgency operations towards achieving national security” and it will end by Saturday December 10, 2016.
The Nigerian Army has been reacting to claims in some quarters that it launched Operation Python Dance to target members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB and MASSOB.
The Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, 82 Division Enugu, Colonel Sagir Musa, told journalists that the operation is to enhance troop’s preparedness against security challenges peculiar to the southeast region, especially during the yuletide.
According to him, the operation is expected to last for one month.
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB) has berated Igbo Political and Religious leaders for what they called nonchalant and selfish attitude towards the advancement and well-being of the Igbo people.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday at an event organised to Honour the 83rd posthumous birthday of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu at the Masson headquarters in Okwe, Onuimo Local Government Area of Imo State, the leader of the group, Comrade Uchenna Madu, said Igbo leaders had failed to criticise the Nigerian Government for what they tagged anti-Igbo policies and policies.
They claimed that the government’s policies had prevented the emancipation of Igbos from Nigeria.
He also accused the Nigerian government and successive governments of abandoning the Igbo land leaving it to decay and rot.
The leader of MASSOB also lamented over the erosion menace that had caused severe damage to lives and property in the south-east.
He said: “The nonchalant and selfish attitude of the present Igbo leaders is a more harmful, dangerous and sacrilegious crime against the Igbo ancestors”.
Mr Madu insisted that the present and acclaimed Igbo leaders had abandoned the legacies and visions of Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu, having no respect for his name, image and personality, which he claimed had been critical in the political, economic, social, traditional and religious lives of Igbo people.
Members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) in Abia State on Tuesday defied the rains as they marched in a peaceful procession through Umuahia and some local government areas.
The procession was to celebrate the 17th year anniversary of the group.
Men, women and retired soldiers who call themselves ‘Freedom fighters’ were seen carrying placards and singing songs hinting that they have reasons to celebrate.
Some of them who spoke to Channels Television disclosed that they would only believe in Nigeria as one nation if things would be done differently.
They condemned what they described as recent massive killings of their fellow southerners in the northern part of the country, inequality in governance, amongst many others.
According to Evans Okoronkwo and Kingsley Nwosu, the way the country is going has become a source of concern that indicates that it is not one nation as being portrayed to the world.
A member of the ruling party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress and an indigene of Imo State in south-east Nigeria has described the increasing agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra as a vehicle of frustration due to economic marginalisation.
Mr Jerry Chukwueke told Channels Television on Wednesday that the youths from the south eastern part of Nigeria and members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) agitating for the Biafran State, were doing so to vent their frustration about the state of the notion.
But Mr Chukwueke said there was no ideology behind the business of the Sovereign State of Biafra.
‘Unfavourable Body Language’
“It ought not to be news to us because for decades we have been warned by the United Nations and the World Bank that 35 to 40 million unemployed youths is an existential threat to Nigeria and this is what we are dealing with today.
“It is obvious that because of insurgency, hundreds of thousands of youths from the south-east and south-south, business people, petty traders have moved out of the region, looking for ways to restart their lives and with no opportunities and support. This is largely, in my view, what is clearly a bust of frustration and economic marginalisation perception.
“There is this perception in the south-east and south-south of what many young people perceive as President Buhari’s ‘unfavourable body language’ and they look at the appointments within the presidency and what happened in the National Assembly in terms of leadership and they feel that the south-south and the south-east are not adequately represented,” he told Channels Television.
“About Bread And Butter”
The APC member further stressed that the government should be looking at creating opportunities for the youths, prioritising youth empowerment, employment, economic opportunities.
“This is about bread and butter. The youths feel marginalised.
“You need the Federal government and the state to focus on this issue,” he insisted.
Mr Chukwueke also attributed the situation to what he called communication deficiency, emphasising that the youths were not being engaged.
“We need to find a new language. We need to find new approaches of engagement.
“When people become desperate, it is largely attributed to a loss of hope.
“We must be able to tell Nigerians and the youths what we are doing, where the light is at the end of the tunnel and how we intend to get there, so that they can see employment and food on their table.
“In fact some of them go further to say that they have been categorised as Jonathan’s people and that perception must be cleared,” he stressed.
The south-east Nigeria indigene also pointed out that the situation was not President Buhari’s issue, stressing that for some years now the youths had been abandoned.
He insisted that the youths are major stakeholders in the polity and should be carried along.
Asked what his opinion was about some Nigerians in the Diaspora who had held demonstrations to push for the Sovereign State of Biafra, he insisted that they were sympathisers, pointing out that there were no leaders or people of substantial standing among those pushing for the state of Biafra.