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Uwazuruike, others docked for treason:• Ohanaeze clears MASSOB over torching of Zik’s house

Posted by By GODWIN TSA Abuja and GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Akwa on 2005/11/09 | Views: 1298 |

Uwazuruike, others docked for treason:• Ohanaeze clears MASSOB over torching of Zik’s house


Leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and six others were Tuesday arraigned before a Federal High Court on a four–count charge of treasonable felony.

Leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and six others were Tuesday arraigned before a Federal High Court on a four–count charge of treasonable felony.

Others also docked are Dr. Chibuike Nwosu, Benedict Alakwem, Chimankpa Okorocha, Kelechi Ubabuike, Ambrose Anyaso and Augustine Ihuoma. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Their arraignment came 24 hours after the violent protest by MASSOB members, which paralysed economic activities in major cities in the South, culminating into the burning of the house of Nigeria’s first president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.

However, pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has absolved MASSOB of complicity in the burning of Dr. Azikiwe’s home.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), who took Uwazuruike and the other accused to court, told Justice Binta Nyako that the suspects had been calling for secession from the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He accused them of organizing rallies and demonstrations without permit between April and July 2005, where they called for the disbandment of Nigeria. He also accused MASSOB of the training of a Biafran soldiers.

Ojo alleged that the accused persons made publications which include: memorandum to United Nations for the sovereign state of Biafra; printed currencies for the purported sovereign state of Biafra; designed, manufactured and displayed purported flags of the sovereign state of Biafra and printed almanacs for the sovereign state of Biafra.

They were also alleged to have printed letter-headed papers, envelopes etc. for the sovereign state of Biafra and threatened to take up arms against the Federal Government of Nigeria.
All the four-count charges bordered on attempt to overthrow the legitimate government of Nigeria, contrary to sections 37 (2), 37 (1), 64, 62 and 63 of the Criminal Code Act and Chapter 77 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

Generally, they were accused of belonging to an unlawful group known as MASSOB, belonging to a militant group called MASSOB Army, which is training with intent to intimidate and over-awe President Olusegun Obasanjo and the government of Nigeria and also of subverting or promoting the subversion of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Attempts by counsel to MASSOB members, Mr. Ziggy Azike, to secure the release of the accused persons hit the rocks as the court held that he ought to have come through a written application. But emerging from the courtroom, a defiant Uwazuruike chanted solidarity songs of "Biafra forever" on sighting pockets of his supporters who were there to witness the proceedings. Looking pale in a T-shirt, with a fez cap, he lamented the dehumanizing conditions under which he’s being detained, vowing to remain committed and unshaken in the cause of Biafra.

Uwazuruike had told the court that he had been handcuffed and chained down in an underground detention camp and denied access to his lawyers.

Justice Nyako, however, ordered that Uwazuruike should be allowed access to his lawyers and adjourned the case to December 6, 2005. The suspects were driven away in a Peugeot Expert bus with registration number CY 766 ABJ, which brought them to court.
Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, absolved MASSOB of any complicity in the burning of the residence of the late Dr. Azikiwe.

Chairman, Ohanaeze, Anambra State chapter, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, lambasted the police, describing their role during the MASSOB peaceful protest as disgraceful. He said that MASSOB has been and still remains a non- violent organization and does not carry arms unlike other ethnic organizations in the country.

Said he: "What happened yesterday (Monday) couldn’t have resulted in anything violent because the organization is non-violent. Those who were attacked or tear gassed were victims of police brutality. MASSOB, as far as I know, is an organization that goes about its activities without any form of molestation or intimidation of members of the public.

"If you compare them with other organizations in the country, you will see the difference. They are not like those in the West or in the North or South South, but more of a peaceful group of people. Whenever they assemble or hold any activity, the police would go there to harass them and at the end of the day, you hear stories of maiming and at times killings".

The Ohanaeze chairman attributed the fire incident to the handiwork of some unknown persons. He expressed sadness over the burning of Zik’s house and called for caution by the police.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.