– Threaten further crackdown on outlawed group
– Police confirm arrest of just four members
By Praise Necherem
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has raised alarm over the whereabouts of 40 members of the group involved in a clash with security operatives in Anambra State last week, calling for their immediate release.
The pro-Biafra group in a statement issued through its Media and Public Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, claimed that a combined team of police and army attacked its members returning from the burial of a slain member last Thursday at Nnewi, leading to the disappearance of over 40 members.
While demanding for the immediate release of the arrested members, the IPOB spokesman warned that the group would not tolerate unprovoked molestation of its members by security operatives.
According to him, the group’s legal team had gone round police stations in the state to secure the release of the members but could not locate any of them.
The statement read in part, “IPOB and its leadership worldwide once again wish to draw the attention of the public andthe world at large to the dangerous attacks and arrest of IPOB members in Anambra State last night (Thursday). They went for the burial of an IPOB member who was among those killed last year during the Operation Python Dance II in Umuahia, Abia State.
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“This barbaric attack by a combined team of Fulani-dominated Nigerian Army and Nigeria Police happened at Nnewi when IPOB family members went for the burial of one of our IPOB family members, Odika Esieme Chukwuma, from Igbo Ukwu in Anambra State.
“He belonged to the Obosi Zone of IPOB. After the burial, as our people were returning from the village of the deceased around 5.30 pm and on reaching St Mary’s Catholic Church, where they were supposed to disperse to their various homes, they were accosted by a team of security agents and without any provocation, they began shooting at our people.
“In the ensuing chaos, some people fell down and the buses they were travelling in climbed over some of them. Many were injured, resulting from gunshots from the army and police. Many more were taken away by the army and police to unknown destinations. Some people had their cars seized, others with motorcycles had them taken away from them too.
“We are putting the world on notice that since this unwarranted and unprovoked attack and abduction of IPOB members coming back from a burial at Igboukwu, our legal team has not located or ascertained the whereabouts of about 40 of our members, who were among those attacked along the Nnewi Ichi Road in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State.”
Meanwhile, the Anambra Police Command has warned people in the state to stop associating with IPOB or risk arrest, maintaining that the pro-Biafra group remained proscribed and its activities outlawed.
The command, in a statement released by its Public Relations Officer, Mrs. Nkeiruka Nwode, said it arrested only four members of the group during the fracas last Friday.
“The command arrested four members of the group while other members of the proscribed group fled to unknown destinations. The arrested persons confessed to being members of IPOB and will be charged to court for prosecution”, Nwode disclosed.
On the activities of the group, the statement read: “The Anambra State Police Command condemns in the strongest term the heinous and the cowardly activities by this group (IPOB) and still calls on the members of the public to avoid associating themselves with such group as anybody caught will face a maximum jail term in accordance to the law.
“Therefore, the command wishes to let the public know that IPOB activities is a treason offence (i.e.) treasonable felony and assures the law-abiding citizens in the state of adequate security. The command, finally wishes to advise the parents to warn their children and wards to be mindful of their activities and report to the police of their suspected activities, promptly.”