Biafra Anniversary:Police arrest 150 in Enugu, Calabar, Delta, Ebonyi


ENUGU—No fewer than 150 members of Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led Biafra Independent Movement,  BIM, were, yesterday, arrested by the police across states in the South-East and some parts of South-South.

 In Enugu, 41 members of the group were arrested  during their anniversary parade celebration. Enugu State Police spokesman, Ebere Amaraizu, who confirmed the arrests, said about 41 persons suspected to be members of BIM/MASSOB were nabbed by security operatives of the command from various parts of Enugu metropolis yesterday morning. 

Biafra anniversary parade celebration along Opi-Nsukka Road, Enugu State, yesterday. Photo:: Kelechukwu Iruoma.

 Amaraizu said the arrests were based on intelligence information that BIM members were about to conduct themselves in a manner likely to cause  breach of peace, adding that investigations into their alleged activities have begun. 

BIM had announced a one-week celebration of the 17years of  re-declaration of the Biafra Republic by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike on May 22,2000, starting from May 22 to 30, 2017. But as early as 7.30am, yesterday,  security men were stationed at Opi, near Nsukka, to stop the MASSOB members from travelling to Enugu metropolis for the demonstration while others were also stationed at the 9th Mile Corner and the Arab Contractors along the Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway and Emene along Enugu-Abakaliki Road. 

The BIM  members, who reportedly came from Aba, Abia State in many buses were stopped at the Arab Contractors and prevented from going into Enugu. However, at Nsukka, over 1000 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, marched through the major streets singing Biafran songs to sensitize the residents on the sit-at-home order by IPOB  on May 30. 

IPOB  said the day was set aside to honour Biafran heroes like late Dr Michael Iheonukara Opara, former Premier of Eastern Region; Chief Frank Opigo, Dr Akanu Ibiam, Dee Samuel Mbakwe, Chief Gabriel Okara, Cardinal Rex Lawson, General Philip Effiong, Col Nwawo, Major Timothy Onwuatuegwu, Col Festus Akagha, Captain Ananaka, Major Chukwuma Nzogwu among others, who sacrificed a lot for Biafra. 

However, the BIM  demonstrators at Nsukka were escorted by the police as they marched from Ugwoye through the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, main gate before heading towards Ibagwa-Enugu Ezike Road. 

The UNN main gate remained closed by the institution’s security men as BIM members arrived the area but the situation was calm as people went about their businesses. Police arrest BIM members in Enugu The state Commissioner of Police Danmalam Mohammed was said to have ordered the arrest of any BIM  member seen on the streets. 

BIM commander in Enugu East Zone, Mr. John Nnamani, said members of the group drawn from the various local government areas of the state were arrested during their celebration to mark the anniversary. Nnamani said it was unfortunate that the police arrested the BIM members during a peaceful celebration . 

BIM leader, Ralph Uwazuruike, challenged the police to produce reason for the arrests, pointing out that his group was not violent.

 He also dis-associated his organisation from the May 30 sit-at-home ordered by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB and MASSOB. …Detain 47  in Calabar, scuttle rally In Calabar, Samuel Okah, leader of MASSOB in Cross River and 46 others were arrested and detained by the police. 

The unarmed MASSOB members under the aegis of Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, were arrested and detained   by the Cross River state police command at Odukpani junction during a peace march by the group. 

Our source gathered that   a combined team of security agents, including Department of State Services, DSS, Police as well as Civil Defence arrested members of the group believed to be partly from Cross River, neighbouring Ebonyi and Enugu states in a Toyota 18-seater bus with Ebonyi registration number ALL 327 ZT. A member of BIM, who spoke under anonymity at the police headquarters in Calabar told Vanguard that the rally was a peaceful march to create awareness about the group, which needed no approval but they were surprised when security agents rounded them up. 

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, confirmed that 47 members of BIM were arrested at Odukpani junction in Odukpani Local Government Area for questioning. Awka, Nnewi shun exercise; Onitsha stands still Onitsha, the commercial city of Anambra State, yesterday, stood still as BIM and its faction of MASSOB, observed the 17th anniversary of re-declaration of Biafra and hoisting of its flag at Aba, Abia State on May 22, 2000.

 Hundreds of MASSOB-BIM members loyal to Uwazuruike, who came from Nnewi, Awkuzu, Aguleri, Umuleri, Nsugbe, Ogidi, Nkpor, Oba, among other neighbouring towns, converged and marched through the major roads in the town, chanting Biafra songs.

 Among places they were seen include Onitsha- Owerri road, Old Market road, Nkpor New road and Enugu-Onitsha expressway. They waved various flags with inscription signifying Biafra, with some of them riding in open cars, tricycles and motorcycles. 

The exercise caused traffic gridlock in all the streets they passed through although there was no molestation of motorists. However, trucks loaded with Police and Joint Task Force of the Military; Police and Civil Defence were seen parading the streets to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order and there was no altercation between them and the security agencies. 

Addressing reporters in Onitsha, Anambra North zonal leader of MASSOB-BIM, Mr. Vincent Iloh, said they  chose the date because May 22, was the date Chief Uwazuruike re-declared the New Biafra struggle for independence from Nigeria. Police scuttle MASSOB, BIM rally in Delta, arrest 10 It was, however, another story in Asaba, Delta State, where the BIM  rally  suffered a setback following the arrest of some of the agitators by the Police.

 A dependable source told Vanguard that the agitators, who converged at about 8 am  on  Abraka axis of Asaba, yesterday, were invaded by the police who threw  teargas at them, adding that 10 members of the group were arrested and detained by the Police who drove into the scene in three Hilux vans while others took to their heels. Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr Andrew Aniamaka could not confirm the arrest, adding that he was yet to get details at press time. 

More arrested in Ebonyi Reports turned in from  Abakaliki said no fewer than 50 members of BIM, Ebonyi State   were  arrested by the police during the group’s rally in Abakaliki. 

The pro-Biafra agitators were allegedly arrested in Ohaukwu LGA and Onueke in Ezza South LGA as they made effort to join the rally in the state capital. 

The Biafra agitators had matched from the popular Spera-In-Deo junction to Presco junction, Abakaliki to commemorate Biafra anniversary. 

MASSOB/BIM leader in the state, John Nwifuru, who stated that the group was guarded by a team of policemen to ensure it was not highjacked by hoodlums, assured that those arrested by the police will be released as, according to him, he has spoken with police authority on the matter. 

Meanwhile, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Jude Madu insisted that his office was yet to receive any report of arrest of MASSOB members in the state, adding that there was no way police can provide security for an unlawful gathering. 

Celebration not felt in Umuahia But reports from Umuahia stated that the  Chief Ralph Uwazuruike-led BIM rally was not felt in Umuahia, the Abia State capital. 

However, some bus loads of BIM members, waving their flags, drove through some major streets of Umuahia and turned at the Umuahia Tower round-about and headed towards Aba where they were billed to hold their ceremony. 

BIM members beaten  in Aba Over 5,000 members of  MASSOB and its sister organization, BIM, yesterday, marched around Aba, Abia State, in celebration of the 17th anniversary of the hoisting of the Biafra flag in the city. 

The group converged at Osisioma Ngwa junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway from where they marched through the Ariaria International Market to 175, Faulks Road, where Uwazuruike hoisted the Biafra on May 2000. 

The group which bore placards like; “We are MASSOB/BIM”, “We are celebrating the new Biafra”, “The freedom fighter, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, is the authentic leader”, among others, further marched through Faulks road to Brass junction and Aba-Owerri road . 

But soldiers believed to be attached to the Forward Operation Base, FOB, Ngwa High School, Aba, arrested some of them   as they came into the city for the celebration. 

The names of the detained members were given as Comfort Ogbuokiri, Jude Iheme, Nnachi Agwu, among others. 

BIM  insisted that the Nigerian government is jittery about what it described as the increasing recognition of the MASSOB/BIM by over 20 countries of the world.

 In separate interviews with Vanguard at Faulks Road, MASSOB leader, Abia South zone, Okporie Nkama and MASSOB leader, Abia Central zone, Felix Ibegbulam, expressed joy at the huge crowd who participated in the anniversary celebration and urged the people of the old Eastern Region to continue to support Uwazuruike as the actualization of an independent state of Biafra is at hand. 

They stated that the huge turn-out of the people had shown that MASSOB/BIM is on ground, and warned those sabotaging Uwazuruike’s efforts to desist or face the wrath of the gods of Biafra.

 According to them, “the Biafra we are celebrating



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