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12 killed over MASSOB protest

Posted by EMM OGU, Owerri, and ALPHONSUS NWEZE, Onitsha on 2005/12/07 | Views: 1124 |

12 killed over MASSOB protest

AT least 12 persons were feared killed yesterday in Imo and Anambra states as the sit-at-home protest called by the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) entered the second and final day.

•Uwazuruike’s trial adjourned to next year

AT least 12 persons were feared killed yesterday in Imo and Anambra states as the sit-at-home protest called by the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) entered the second and final day.

Seven out of the eight people who lost their lives in Owerri, Imo State, were reportedly shot dead by members of a joint military and police team deployed to keep the peace.

A commercial motorcycles operator also died on the spot after he collided with a bullion van while trying to flee Douglas road, Owerri on sighting security agents.

In Onitsha, Anambra State, four persons died including one Mrs Ngozi Anyaegbunam who died in controversial circumstances while over 40 suspected MASSOB members were arrested by the police.

A 16-year-old boy was earlier shot dead Monday in the commercial city allegedly by the police.

Like the previous day most residents of Owerri, Onitsha and other cities in the South East geo-political zona complied with the sit-at-home order.

Also in Owerri no fewer than seven persons sustained various degree of bullet injuries during the encounter in which live bullets and teargas cannisters were freely used by the security operatives. Some of the victims were in their streets when stray bullets hit them.

Four survivors who are on danger list were rushed to Federal Medical Center (FMC) Owerri where doctors and nurses are presently battling to extract bullets lodged in their bodies while some others were taken to hospitals nearby. Some were shot in the leg, shoulder and stomach.

One man was shot dead at AMA Hausa Area, two gunned down at Onumiri while another was shot near Mere Street. About 12.30 p.m three people killed in unidentified places were deposited at FMC mortuary by the operatives. Reports also said that another victims was shot on Mbaise road.

Our Correspondent who visited FMC by 2 p.m saw crowd of sympathisers at casualty ward where the surviving victims were being treated.

Owerri was calm early morning as many traders and shop owners locked their shops in compliance with the sit-at-home protest called by MASSOB. People were also moving about freely until, 9.30 a.m when stampede brokeout following rumour that some people from Aba and Onitsha were heading for the town to enforce the order.

The situation deteriorated shortly after as youths barricaded some roads and made bonfires on sighting soldiers and policemen on the streets.

The operatives fired sporadically as they moved round in convoy of vehicles to disperse crowds at Timber Market on Wetheral Road and Dauglas Road by Ekeonunwa market.

People ran for dear life, parents raced to schools for their children. Shortly the road and streets were deserted as residents made for their homes and locked their doors.

It was not until 2 p.m that residents tentatively returned to the street as the soldiers and policemen withdrew except at Ama Hausa where the team armed with machine guns and rifles were stationed.

When contacted for his comment the Army Public Relations Officer at 34 Artillery Brigade in Obinze major K.O. Ogunsanya told Daily Champion that the soldiers were actually drafted to keep peace but, could not confirm the actual number of casualties.

"I cannot assure you of the figures now because they are not yet back. They will come back to write their report. But it is unfortunate for whatever that happened", he said.

On his part Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Isa Bala Mohammed said he was not aware of the shooting as he was yet to be briefed.

But the killing of Mrs Ayaegbunam in Onitsha sparked off spontaneous reaction from youths who allegedly killed three persons believed to be MASSOB members.

Former minority leader in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon. Ifeanyi Ibegbu led protesters from Awka Road through Market Road to Ode Ohwodu, chanting anti-MASSOB songs.

The Onitsha Police Area Commander, Mr. Dennis Anyagafu commended them for their reaction, and condemned closure of markets.

He said that Imo State where the MASSOB leader, Chief Ralp Uwazuruike hails form and other towns in South East are peaceful, wondering why Onitsha should be the hotbed of MASSOB activities.

Anyagafu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) said the police have no business shooting at innocent persons, rather their concern was with armed bandit" parading as MASSOB members.

He warned those behind MASSOB saying those "who sow wind will reap whirlwind".

However MASSOB Director of Information Uchenna Madu who confirmed the death of three other persons, one at inland town and two in Oba, Idemili South Local government Area of Anambra State, denied that MASSOB killed Mrs. Anyaegbunam.

He said that out of the three, dead persons, one was a card-carrying member of MASSOB, while others are sympathisers.

Markets in Onitsha remained closed yesterday with people staying indoors. Like on Monday, banks, offices, public places, and federal government establishments remained shut.

Meanwhile, Anambra State Commisisoner of Police, Mr Felix Ogbaudu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka yesterday that the woman, Mrs Anyaegbunam, was allegedly shot by an activist of the (MASSOB) for opening her restaurant on Awka Road, Onitsha.

He said that the killing got an immediate reaction as indigenes of Onitsha rose up against the activists for killing their daughter.

The situation, he said, had been brought under control by the Police Area Commander in charge of Onitsha.

The commissioner said the perpetrators of the crime had not been arrested but that the police had began investigations to get the killers.

Ogbaudu said that the command had arrested more than 40 people, impounded many motorcycles and two Mitsubishi buses allegedly used by MASSOB members between Monday and yesterday in connection with the order.

He also said that several road blocks by the activists in different locations in the state had been removed by his men.

Meanwhile business activities in Anambra State remained paralysed yesterday even as Governor Chris Ngige described the activities of MASSOB as mild when compared with what obtains in other parts of the South East.

Although some shops and filling stations risked opening for business, markets and bans were still under lock and key even as some miscreants blocked some major roads in the state including Zik Avenue, Awka. Also students of some public schools were busy writing first term examinations while other and especially private schools were shut.

Governor Ngige who spoke in the afternoon reiterated his commitment to the security of lives and property of the citizenry in the state, warning people not to take laws into their hands no matter the circumstance.

In a related development, on-going conference of judges in Abuja, yesterday stalled proceedings on the treasonable suit filed agaisnt leaders of (MASSOB) by the Federal Government.

Consequently, hearing on the suit has been adjourned to January 17, next year.

But in a swift reaction to the development, counsel to the MASSOB leader, Chief Raph Uwazurike, Mr Festus Keyamo, said it was a ploy by the Federal Government to keep his clients in detention till next year.

Keyamo who said his team has made presentation to the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), alleged that he was prevented from seeing the detainees while others were allowed access to them.

"It is a plot by the Nigerian state to keep them in custody. We have made our presentation to the Attorney General, he is the one to give us access to them since we have been refused access.

"Particularly, I have been blacklisted. They have allowed every member of my team access to Uwazurike, they have not allowed me access to Uwazuruike because they have blacklisted me in the SSS," he said.

Alleging that the MASSOB leaders are undergoing political trial, Keyamo enjoined every member of the group to keep faith to the challenges adding that "we should make no mistake about it at all."

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Comments (9)

Kim Worley(Greeley, Colorado, US)says...

I heard this in a song and had no idea what it meant. Googled it and this came up. Very Cool. ????????????????

Obinna(Newark Nj)says...

I want to know more meaning and significant of this name obidike in igboland

Olusola Okhiria Nee Sodunke(Newport, Newport, UK)says...

This is a great piece of history, which is dear to our hearts as people and very much appreciated.

Many thanks to the people who worked hard in the past and those who are still making efforts to keep the institution.

The labour is obviouly worth it. We are proud of you all.

A lot still to be done, with the motivation of the champions of this course, others will follow as well to maintain the institution

May God continue to keep the edifice for development of future generations to the glory of God and the benefits of our fatherland.

Joel Efiong(Calabar, Nigeria)says...

This is a great piece. The examination bodies should hire you as ICT consultant.

Sunday Mbe(Kaduna, Kaduna, Nigeria)says...