- As protest spreads to Anambra, Delta and Enugu
Supporters of the controversial Director of Radio Biafra and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, on Tuesday, grounded commercial and vehicular activities, in parts of Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, to protest for the immediate unconditional release of Kanu, who was arrested on Saturday, in Lagos, by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The demonstrations also spread to Anambra and Delta streets. Kanu was arrested, weekend, in Lagos, and transferred to Abuja, where he was arraigned. Many of the protesters were, however, arrested by the police.
The protesters in Rivers State, who stormed Port Harcourt, were split into seven groups and appeared peaceful, although chanting war songs, calling for the creation of the sovereign state of Biafra.
The agitators, mainly business men and women of Igbo extraction, said it was an act of impunity for the federal government to apprehend a man who is championing the cause of his people.
The IPOB supporters claimed that they were not part of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, adding that the IPOB is fighting a true cause for the emancipation of the Biafrans.
The protesters who waved the Biafra flag as they marched, chanting Biafra solidarity songs said they were not satisfied with the bail conditions granted Mr Kalu, demanding that he should be released unconditionally.
They expressed grievance with the alleged unfair treatment of the Igbo by the Nigerian state, stressing that Biafra of their dream was a reality,
“We are hopeful that Biafra will come to be. We are not satisfied with the bail conditions granted Kalu. During the elections, they had strange radio stations blaring hate speeches and threats in some parts of the north but nobody harassed them. This unfairness against the Igbo must stop”, one of the protesters said as they marched on.
Some motorists blared their vehicles horns in solidarity as they drove through the protesters.
Speaking, one of the coordinators of IPOB, Mr. Chidiebre Aguodu said, “The reason for this protest is that our able chairman, the father and founder of IPOB worldwide has been held by President Muhammadu Buhari. We need him to be released to us unconditionally. The protest for now is peaceful, but we need Biafra and we need freedom. We are armless, we have not harmed anybody and we owe nobody any apology for what we are doing. As Biafrans, we stand for justice and justice will reign.
“Now our director has been held for days and we want him out and we want freedom in Biafra land.
“I advise the country to allow Biafrans go because the marriage has lasted for 101 years and there was no understanding. The battle lasted for 40 years and we have won three times. All we want now is freedom because we are tired of the marriage. Let Nigerians be Nigerians and Biafrans be Biafrans.”
Meanwhile, protesters, yesterday stormed the entrance of Delta State Government House, Asaba condemning the arrest and detention of the Director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
Gathered under the aegis of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Delta State chapter, the protesters, mainly women, demanded the immediate release of Kanu, describing his arrest as uncalled for and totally unacceptable.
Songs of grievance
Chanting songs of grievance and displaying placards which bore various inscriptions such as “Freedom for Biafra, free Nnamdi Kanu”, “We are not terrorists, we are freedom fighters”, “We are tired of intimidation and harassment by Nigeria Government”, “Biafra on the move” amongst others, the protesters said they were no longer comfortable with the Nigerian government.
Speaking during the protest, Secretary of IPOB, Delta State chapter, Nnenna Nwaoha, said: “The reason for the protest is for Nnamdi Kanu to be released; we have suffered enough in the hands of the Nigerian government and we are no more comfortable with it.
“We want our freedom. That is why we are here. We are not comfortable with the Nigerian government, the intimidation, killing and all that; that is why we want our freedom. We feel very bad about his detention and it is affecting each and every one of us.
“The federal government should release our Director, Dr. Nnamdi Kanu and we also want our freedom. As a nation that is due for freedom, we want to go; we are tired; the suffering is too much; it is not a crime to want our freedom; we want to go.”
On her part, Mrs. Judith Ihebiehi said: “This man is our voice, he is our mentor. We have been in darkness all this while, so this man has been speaking for us. The Nigerian government has no right to detain him; he has done nothing.
“Have they ever asked themselves if what this man has been saying is false? Have they bothered to verify what Nnamdi Kanu has been saying? So detaining him will bring problems; we have been calming our husbands down, we have been saying ‘wait’ we women will go to the government, we will talk to them and say this is what we want; we don’t want problem. That is why we are here.
Also, supporters of the embattled director of Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu were yesterday arrested by the Anambra State police command at various points in Awka as they embarked on protests in the state capital.
The protesters, including women, carrying placards with various inscriptions, marched from Amawbia to the Government House, demanding that Kanu be left alone.
However, as they approached Government House, the police men stationed at the place fired sporadically into the air and threw teargas canisters to scare them.
Another group protesting at the Arroma junction was also picked by the police.
Anambra State coordinator of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mr. Ikechukwu Okoye said their protest was not meant to cause any trouble, adding that they were only on the streets to prevail on security operatives to release Kanu.
According to him, the protesters were marching to the Government House to plead with Anambra State governor, Chief Willie Obiano to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene on the matter.
He said: “We are only agitators who obey the laws of the land. This is democracy and there is freedom of speech and freedom of movement.
“Why would anybody detain our leader and in the process be demanding bail fee of N2 million. We have not come to fight anybody because we are peace makers”
Breach of peace
Anambra Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hosea Karma, confirmed the arrest of the protesters, saying it was because they were parading along the Enugu-Onitsha expressway thereby causing breach of peace.
According to the CP, “there is nothing like Indigenous People of Biafra. Those people constituted nuisance on the high way and that was why they were picked.
“Right now, I do not know the number of people that were picked, but I want to assure the people that anybody who disturbs the peace that exists in this state will not go unpunished.”
Meanwhile, the factional leadership of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has lent support to the Radio Biafra director.
In a press statement made available to reporters in Awka yesterday, the national director of information of the breakaway MASSOB, Mr Uchenna Madu said it was identifying with Kanu in the spirit of brotherhood and pursuing one strong force for self-determination.
The statement read: “If Nigeria is shivering and catching cold when international sympathizers / supporters of Biafra are openly and diplomatically expressing positive concerns on Biafra and Nnamdi Kanu’s arrest which subsequently pressurizes the DSS to quickly but secretly arraign him before a court which also granted him bail, it evidently shows that the end of Nigeria domination of Biafra has come.
“MASSOB condemns the opposition of Ralph Uwazuruike- led faction of MASSOB on Nnamdi Kanu. How can Ralph Uwazuruike who claimed to be fighting for Biafra actualization openly support Nigeria government on this arrest of Nnamdi Kanu?
“Nnamdi Kanu was not suspended by Ralph Uwazuruike or MASSOB as claimed. Rather, he left MASSOB in 2009 when Biafra groups in Diaspora who jointly assisted and supported Ralph Uwazuruike in the quest for Biafra, found out that all the monetary dues committed to the struggle from abroad and at home for execution of Biafra project were not judiciously used.”
Also in Rivers State Police Commissioner, Mr Musa Kimo said twelve persons have been arrested in connection with the protest by members of MASSOB in Port Harcourt yesterday.
The state Police Chief disclosed this yesterday evening, warning that the Police will not tolerate such protest in the state capital anymore.
The protest disrupted flow of traffic in some areas of the state capital. In New GRA axis of the state capital, motorists were stranded for several hours because of the traffic gridlock caused by the protests on adjoining major roads linking roads in the highbrow residential area of Port Harcourt. (Source and photo credit: Vanguard)