According to reports, five people were gunned down while seven others sustained various injuries at the Niger Bridge Head when members of the Indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB, and Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, clashed with the Joint Task Force, JTF, which consisted of the Army and the Police, yesterday.
It is alleged that four people among the dead persons gunned down were members of both IPOB and MASSOB, while one person is said to be a soldier, who the mob furiously descended on at the way soldiers opened fire on a jubilating crowd that included non pro-Biafro agitators. The mob grabbed him and dealt with him with their bare hands. When the shooting started, the crowd ran, leaving the victims behind.
All the markets around the Niger Bridge Head, including the Bridge Head Market, Onitsha Patent and Propitiatory Medicine Dealers Market (Ogbo Ogwu Market) and the Abada Market were shut down when soldiers started shooting sporadically into the air to disperse the crowd. Sources are telling very different stories about how the shooting occurred, read some of them
According to an eye-witness at the Onitsha Bridge Head, the Pro-Biafra agitators were marching on the road close to the River Niger Bridge, chorusing solidarity songs in celebration of the release of Nnamdi Kanu, when they were confronted by the soldiers, who ordered them to stop and head back. While they were still arguing and disagreeing with the order, the soldiers reportedly opened fire on them.
Another source revealed that the pro-Biafra agitators and those supporting their cause, were singing, celebrating and make different dance moves close to the bridge, when the soldiers who had been guarding the bridge since the last shooting, got extremely enraged by the celebration and opened fire on the protesters which caused the death of protesters who had no arms.
The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Ali Okechukwu who confirmed the clash, blamed the pro-Biafra agitators for deploying more than I00 of their members to launch a fight on the soldiers at the Niger Bridge Head. He also accused them of trying to strip the soldiers of their guns.
Leader of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu while issuing a statement on the gruesome and brutal incident, said that the news of the release of Mr. Kanu evoked celebration, excitement, singing, and dancing in Onitsha and other ‘Biafran’ lands and those in Onitsha took their dance to Chukwemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu memorial tablet at the Niger Bridge Head.
He further stated that the soldiers shot sporadically at the protesters out of jealousy because they were singing and dancing, and that no matter the intimidation, harassment and killing of their members, they will not be pushed to be violent or fierce given that “the military is working tooth and nail to make sure they resort to violence, but we will never fall for their trap as their peaceful character is what has been setting them free in all the harassment and intimidation they have been going through.