Groups hold successful rally in Ebonyi
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki and Bassey Inyang in Calabar
About 88 suspected pro-Biafran agitators were on Monday arrested by the Enugu and Cross River State Police Commands for attempts to commemorate what they called â€˜New Biafraâ€™.
While the 41 agitators arrested in Enugu were members of the Chief Ralph Uwazurike-led Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), the 47 members arrested in Cross River State were members of the Movement for the Actualisation for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The police also prevented no less than 1,000 others said to belong to the Uwazurike-led BIM from storming the Enugu State capital for the celebration of the 17th year anniversary of the hoisting of the Biafra flag.
Members of the group across the state had planned to converge on the state capital to mark the anniversary, but hundreds of them were stopped at the Opi junction in Nsukka council of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the arrest of the 41 persons in a statement, said they were picked up from various parts of Enugu metropolis in the morning â€œbased on intelligence information that they were about to conduct themselves in a manner likely to cause the breach of peace.â€
He said the attention of the command was drawn to the alleged plan by some group masquerading under the aegis of BIM, among others, to embark on violent protest within the state and its environs which is capable of disturbing the already existing peace in the state as hoodlums may as well cash in on that to wreak havoc on law abiding citizens of the state.
â€œIn view of the above, the command advises members of the public to be law abiding by shunning any act capable of bringing them in conflict with the law as any one caught will be made to face the consequence in accordance with the relevant sections of the law.
â€œThe command advises members of the public to go about their normal lawful businesses.
â€œInvestigations into their alleged activities have begun,â€ he said
But the Zonal Leader of Enugu senatorial zone of MASSOB- BIM, Mr. James Omeke said reports reaching him had it that 55 members of the group were arrested in various parts of the state as they were preparing to enter the state capital to celebrate their 17th year anniversary of the hoisting of Biafra flag by Uwazurike.
In Cross River State, the police command announced that they arrested the pro-Biafra agitators while carrying out a street protest in Odukpani Local Government Area.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Irene Ugbo, said they were arrested at Odukpani junction and brought to the state command headquarters in Calabar for interrogation.
â€œWe had information about the rally at Odukpani and our men swung into action and arrested them for questioning to ascertain their mission and objective. Once that is obtained, they would be released to go because no weapon was found on them,â€ Ugbo said.
A member of the group who pleaded anonymity, said they were only carrying out a peaceful march to create awareness about their existence in the state.
However, members of MASSOB/BIM), Ebonyi State yesterday held successful rally in the state capital, Abakaliki, to commemorate what it called â€˜New Biafraâ€™.
MASSOB/BIM leader in the state, John Nwifuru, explained that they matched peacefully from the popular Spera-In-Deo junction to Presco junction Abakaliki to commemorate Biafra independence as Biafra flags flooded the capital city during rally which saw policemen at strategic locations.
He said the group was guarded by a team of policemen to ensure it was not high jacked by hoodlums.
Nwifuru said: â€œOur rally was very successful and we donâ€™t have any problem despite the policemen that disturbed earlier when we were converging for the rally. They arrested about 11 Biafra security personnel at Ohaukwu and others in Nkwegu and other areas.
â€œI have discussed with the commissioner of police and he assured me that those arrested would be released immediately and I want to thank him for supporting our event because policemen marched with us, wherever we got to ensure that we have no problem with anybody, as we conducted ourselves orderly.
The police spokesman, Jude Mmadu, noted that no such procession took place in the state as the command was fast to disrupt the planned rally, stressing that he has not also received report of arrest of any of the agitators.
He stressed that there was no way the police would have allowed the outlawed group to hold procession in the state.