Pro-Biafra protests shut down Owerri, Enugu, others

By: Johnkennedy Uzoma

A pro-Biafra group known as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and members of the more well-known Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday shut down Owerri, the capital of Imo State, as well as other parts of the state during a protest march in the capital city. The protest paralysed socio-economic activities in the city of Owerri, as movement was virtually impossible.

The peaceful protest march was staged in continuation of the demand for immediate release of the group’s leader, Dr. Nnamdi Kanu, from detention and it took the protesters round major streets of Owerri, forcing shops and offices to close down.

The protesters, large number, were chanting songs and carried placards with inscriptions like: “We are tired of slavery, give us Biafra”, “Free Nnamdi Kanu and other hostages”, among others. There was heavy presence of armed security operatives from the police, army and NSCDC at various junctions and streets, while combined teams followed the protesters, monitoring their activities.

One of the protesters, Chukwueneka Obi, told Daily Trust that they want President Muhammad Buhari to, without further delay, free their leader. He decried the continuous detention of Dr. Kanu, insisting that both the leader and Biafra should be given freedom.

Imo State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Enweren, said that the presence of policemen was meant to give the protesters needed monitoring of their activities, even as they carry out their peaceful protests on the streets of Owerri.

However, the protest in Owerri is the continuation of planned activities by the pro-Biafra agitators in the states in the South-East and South-South zones in the country. It is a renewed march by both the members of MASSOB and the newer IPOB, for self-rule and the immediate release of the detained Biafra Radio boss, Dr. Nnamdi Kanu.

The protest started in Enugu, which is the capital of the zone, following the arrest and refusal by the Federal Government of Nigeria to grant Dr. Kanu his freedom. The situation as it stands now has gradually sparked off simultaneous protests in neighbouring Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa and Rivers states.

Enugu/Abia

In Enugu State, the capital of the South-East zone, and Abia State, the protesters in their demand for an independent state of Biafra, took to the streets, marching through New Haven, Ogui Road and Okpara Avenue. They hoisted the Biafran flag in many main streets and junctions.

The protesters almost took over control of traffic along Okpara Avenue/Abakaliki road and subjected motorist to drive on one lane to allow their members march on the other. The Bisalla Road that links Enugu State Government House and the Late Michael Okpara Square was blocked by security operatives to cordon off the protesters. Men of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army took position along the Abakaliki axis to prevent the protesters from passing through their base. But in the end, the protesters continued their march through all the major streets, from 8:00am till about 1:00pm.

In Aba, the Enyimba city, IPOB members also marched in thousands. All efforts by the Nigerian Police and other security operatives to prevent them proved abortive.

Asaba/Delta/Onitsha

Immediately after the Enugu and Aba protests, the Delta, Asaba and Onitsha portions took their turn. The number of the protesters was unprecedented at Onitsha, resulting in the Owerri-Onitsha expressway becoming completely impassable. Motorists were unable to move, subjected to keep still movement for some hours.

Rivers State/Bayelsa

The planned protest in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State, was aborted by security operatives but in Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, the presence of well-armed security operatives could not stop the unprecedented number of IPOB and MASSOB protesters from swarming the streets.

Daily Trust spoke with one of the protesters, Mr. Chibuzo Okoli, who is a member of IPOB, and he said they are demanding for an independent state of Biafra in order to gain their freedom from the orchestrated marginalization of the people of the Eastern region.

Okoli added that if it is actualized, it would offer them an opportunity to chart a way forward for their own socio-economic development agenda based on their own initiatives.

SOURCE: WEEKLY TRUST

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