Biafra activists were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the Biafra republic when the occasion turned bloody and no fewer than than 30 people are feared to have been killed and several others injured, as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were said to have clashed with security operatives in Onitsha while a separate clash had also broken out between members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and policemen in Asaba, Delta State.
During rally in Onitsha, Anambra State, a combined team of the military and police allegedly clashed with members of IPOB. It was also gathered that over 50 members of the Biafran group were arrested by the military and taken to the 302 Cantonment of the Nigerian Army in Onitsha.
Following the mayhem, the commercial city of Onitsha, especially the Nkpor axis, was locked down with the security operatives taking over the roads and engaged in gun battle, which led to the killings. It was learnt that the battle began when an IPOB member allegedly shot at a soldier who was patrolling where the protesters had converged to begin their procession around Upper Iweka area of Onitsha.
Also See: Democracy Day – All Buhari’s 29 Travels
In Asaba, Delta state, it was learnt that over 2,000 members of both IPOB and MASSOB had gathered along Anwai Road and allegedly barricaded the access route to the Delta State Government House in Asaba, as part of the Biafra Heroes’ Day rally, but the rally was hijacked by some hoodlums who posed as members of the groups and allegedly molested innocent citizens on the road, stripping them of their valuables.
The situation was said to have prompted a joint team of policemen and soldiers who arrived at the scene and fired tear gas canisters to the “violent” crowd, after issuing several warnings in a bid to dispersed them from the area.
The crowd angrily moved towards the Niger Bridge with hostile and violent actions and resorted to stoning the police team and the soldiers deployed for duty at the Asaba end of the River Niger Bridge, who denied them access to the Bridge. At that point, the police again warned the crowd several times to disperse, and thereafter released the tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd.
The action was confronted with sporadic firing from within the crowd, which followed with simultaneous attacks on the soldiers and policemen with the ulterior aim to disarm and subdue them and the security operatives responded in self-defense which resulted in the death of two policemen, two others thrown into River Niger and several others injured.
Condemning the killing of its members, MASSOB leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said the federal government should look into the massacre with a view to arresting the situation, warning that the Biafran agitators might be forced to take up arms in self-defense should the security forces continue to kill defenseless IPOB and MASSOB members.