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MASSOB seizes major cities by the throat

Posted by Sun News Online on 2005/11/08 | Views: 708 |

MASSOB seizes major cities by the throat


The house of Nigeria’s first president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was on Monday burnt down in Onitsha by protesting members of the Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) as the group made good its threat to begin a nationwide protest against the continued detention of its leader, Chief Raph Uwazuruike.

By GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka, DAVID ONWUCHEKWA, Nnewi, GODDY OSUJI, Enugu, BUCHY ENYINNAYA, Asaba, FEMI FOLARANMI, Yenagoa, MATTHIAS NWOGU, Aba, PETRUS OBI, Abakaliki, PHILIP NWOSU and MATTHEW DIKE, Lagos


The house of Nigeria’s first president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was on Monday burnt down in Onitsha by protesting members of the Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) as the group made good its threat to begin a nationwide protest against the continued detention of its leader, Chief Raph Uwazuruike.


Two persons were allegedly killed during the protest which also paralysed economic activities in major cities in the South. They include Nnewi, Onitsha, Enugu, Owerri, Yenagoa, Asaba and the economic hub of Igbo traders in Lagos, Suru-Alaba.
In the ensuing fracas in Onitsha, a member of the Movement was alleged to have been killed by the police who cordoned off the Azikiwe compound after putting off the fire which had already razed one of the houses in the premises.


As at press time, armed policemen were still guarding the house while scores of sympathizers, mostly women were seen weeping over the damage done to the late Azikiwe’s house.
Confirming the incident to newsmen on phone, the state Police Commissioner, Mr Felix Ogbaudu, said it was an apartment in the compound that was burnt by the MASSOB members, but denied the alleged killing of a MASSOB member. "Nobody died," he stressed.


The police boss noted that the fire service was not working at the time of the incident, adding that save for the quick intervention of his men who used buckets of water and sand to put off the fire, the damage would have been more. He, however, said no arrests had been made so far.


The burnt homesBut MASSOB Director of Information, Comrade Uche Madu, denied the involvement of members of his group in the burning of Zik’s house, while accusing the Federal Government of perpetrating the heinous act to discredit MASSOB in its protest against the continued detention of its leader.
He said that four of his members were shot by the police and that two have already been confirmed dead.


The Movement has also threatened to declare an indefinite sit-at-home strike by the Igbo nation and everywhere Igbos live from November 24, should government refuse to release Uwazuruike.
MASSOB members numbering about 3,000 and moving round Onitsha in a convoy of over 30 buses blocked the Onitsha head bridge, thereby preventing vehicles from entering or leaving Onitsha; while in other cities like Awka, they drove round the major roads chanting war songs and waving the Biafran flag.
The blockage at the head bridge affected both businessmen and private people, especially newspaper houses whose vehicles carrying the day’s newspapers were stuck on the way. Speaking to Daily Sun on phone, Comrade Madu, said the protest was nationwide and aimed at compelling the Federal Government to release Uwazuruike.


Said he, "We have to go on this protest to tell the international community that the Nigerian government is holding our leader. He has committed no crime and I wonder if it is a crime for somebody to say he doesn’t want to belong to a country. The United Nation’s Charter has stipulated that a person or a group is free to become a citizen of any country or nation of his choice and that should not be deprived from us.
"And I think the Nigerian government appears to be unaware of the grave consequences of continuously arresting and detaining our leader and members. There is an extent to which a race could be pushed to the wall and it would have no option. Nigerian government is sitting on a keg of gunpowder and no one should blame us for its implication."
He warned that should anything happen to Uwazuruike, Nigeria will quake.
The image maker also warned the governors of the South East, traditional rulers and leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo over their silence on Uwazuruike, stressing that none of them would have rest or remain in Igboland should anything happen to the MASSOB leader.


"Nobody wants to talk, nobody wants to ask why, all they do (Ohanaeze) is to sit in their houses and holding endless meetings that yield no dividends. People should go and warn them because when we start no one would sleep in his house until we avenge all that has been happening to the Igbo nation."
On the sit at home strike, Madu said, "the nationwide sit at home strike would be indefinite. Every Igbo man and woman anywhere he or she is will stay at home. No market will open, vehicles will not move, the airport and sea ports will be closed down and I bet you the economy of this country will collapse."
The protest in Nnewi started at about 7:00am and prevented banks and markets from opening.
The protesters set bonfire on all the major roads in Nnewi community causing heavy environmental pollution from the smoke.


When contacted, the MASSOB leader in Nnewi province, Mrs Ubazuonu Virginia said that Chief Uwazuruike who has been in detention "for committing no offence other than asking for his people to go" must be released in the interest of peace.


She said that no amount of intimidation would cow her members to submission, adding that MASSOB will keep on pressing until Chief Uwazuruike is released.
Biafran royal fathers, a national forum of red cap chiefs under the leadership of Chief Ezeudo Ibe described the continued detention of Uwazuruike as contempt of court and condemnable act in a civilised society.


According to them, "detention of Chief Uwazuruike and his non-violent followers amounted to contravention of an Owerri Federal High Court judgement which had earlier granted Uwazuruike and his followers freedom to exercise their fundamental human rights."


It took a combined team of armed policemen from Nnewi Central Police and Otolo stations to disperse the protesting MASSOB members who had already blocked major roads in Nnewi, chanting warsongs.
MASSOB claimed 30 of its members were arrested but the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Nnewi Mr Nelson .A. Okoro said only a handful of "Street Boys" who wanted to capitalise on the riot to loot were arrested, saying that he would hand them over to Nnewi Police Area Command.


Similarly, commercial activities and vehicular movements were temporally disrupted in Enugu when over 1000 members of MASSOB marched round the major streets in the metropolis in a peaceful demonstration against the incarceration of their leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike by the Federal Government.


The demonstrators comprising elderly men and women as well as youths who chanted various Biafran war songs against the Nigerian government also displayed placards some of which read "Nigeria bye bye," "FG leave Uwazuruike alone," among others.


Demanding for the immediate release of their leader, Comrade Ikechukwu Ekwe said "we want to make a mass protest to the Federal Government to release our leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike who was arrested by the security agents on 26 October 2005 and up till now he has remained in detention. We want to protest against his abduction."


In Asaba, motorists and commuters had a hectic and restricted movement for several hours as hundreds of members of MASSOB blocked the Asaba–Onitsha end of the River Niger bridge.
At about 9.30 am, the MASSOB members numbering over 700 stormed the bridge-head section of Onitsha aboard a 911 lorry with which they blocked the road and made bonfires at the centre of the road to checkmate passersby. Some members of the group later disguised as stranded passengers and entered the Ibusa road area in Asaba, Delta State capital, carrying placards adorned with various inscriptions.


The situation was later brought under control through the prompt intervention of armed anti-riot policemen drafted from the "A", "B" and bridge head divisional stations of the State Police Command who twice forced the MASSOB members to retreat to the Onitsha area.
The confusion and worry caused by the early morning protest also prompted the State Police Command to dispatch its patrol teams on motorbikes and vans to intensify search for the fleeing members of the group in Asaba.


When Daily Sun contacted the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in the state, Miss Oluseyi Okuwobi, she said no arrests had been made and that everywhere was calm.
"We learnt that some MASSOB members were protesting the arrest of their leader Uwazuruike in Abuja. So they blocked the Anambra part of the Niger bridge head, stopped vehicles from getting to Anambra State. Though they tried to enter Delta State twice, our policemen that were drafted there did not allow them to come in. As at now everywhere is calm, we don’t have any of them now", she said.
Addressing a large group of people attracted by the demonstrating MASSOB members, the Aba Area Women Administrator, Mrs. Ngozi Kanu said that they were not happy with the continued detention of Chief Uwazuruike by the Federal Government.


According to her, his detention was provocative as he was only expressing his views and was not doing so with violence.


The Administrator who claimed that many women especially widows were passing through untold hardship in the country said that their only hope to end their suffering was through the actualization of Biafra.


"Women are suffering. We have no money to buy food, to pay our children’s school fees and meet our other needs. We have our hopes on Chief Uwazuruike, please release him for us immediately", she demanded.
She warned that if their leader was not released, the women members of MASSOB would be forced to march to ASO ROCK Abuja and urinate there.
Also speaking, the Director for Markets, Mr. Udensi Nnanna said the continued detention of Uwazuruike after the ultimatum that ended on Tuesday was pushing MASSOB members too close to the wall.


"We simply want the Federal Government to release our leader. He is neither violent nor a criminal."
According to the secretary general of MASSOB in Lagos, Mr Great Nnamdi Agomuoh, the arrest and detention of Chief Uwazuruike and inability of the SSS to allow the group access to its leader, is an afront to the aspiration of MASSOB.
He called on the Federal Government to allow them access to Chief Uwazuruike or grant the MASSOB leader unconditional release.


He said: "We have right to aspire to any length we want to, according to the United Nations Charter. We are free to say we do not want to be Nigerians, we want to be Biafrans."
Agonmouh said the protest was organised to drive home the point that the time for the independence of the Biafran state is now.


In Bayelsa capital, Yenagoa, the group defied security agencies to hod a peaceful protest on Sunday.
The coordinator of the group in Bayelsa State, Comrade Bid Ogbonna who led the protests told Daily Sun that arresting and keeping Uwazuruike in detention cannot stop the agitation of ethnic nationalities for freedom from the Nigerian state.


The protest that was planned to hold in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, was, however, shifted to Onueke, Ezza South LGA, and headquarters of Ebonyi Central Senatorial Zone. There the leaders of MASSOB addressed the faithfuls, urging them to remain strong and steadfast.
They demanded the immediate and unconditional release of their leader, "who is currently being held by the Nigerian government for no offence."


 

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown