By Phil Okose, Onitsha
The leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) also known as Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, has expressed outrage and sadness over the massacre of some members of the pro-Biafra group, 16 years ago.
Uwazuruike, while commemorating the 19 years anniversary of his Biafra campaign, recalled how police operatives drafted from the Imo state police command headquarters in Owerri, allegedly ambushed MASSOB convoy travelling to Umuahia for a rally in support of the United States war on terror.
According to him, during the ambush on March 29, and later April 6, 2003, police operatives acting on order from above, shot sporadically on Biafra agitators, killing over 100 persons, including his chief security (CSO) officer, Mr. Ifeanyi Ihenacho.
A statement signed by the Biafra Director of Information, Mazi Chris Anierobi Mocha, disclosed that the massacre of March 29 and April 6, remain significant in the life of the new Biafra struggle to attain statehood and recalled also that on March 29, 2003, that Uwazuruike was arrested with five of our members and taken to Abuja.
He added that while the MASSOB members were demonstrating for their quick release on April 6, that three members of MASSOB were killed on the spot by the police which was more reason why people seek for a separate nation from Nigeria without violence.
According to the release, when Uwazuruike announced he was going to form MASSOB in 1999, he followed it up as he submitted the Biafran bill of rights to UN on November 1st of the same year to discuss new Biafra. To many, especially Igbo leaders, it sounded bizarre and Uwazuruike was visited with cynicism and convulsive of derision.
“Today, the former MASSOB now BIM-MASSOB has become a reality and nobody dismisses the Uwazuruike’s Biafra talks with the wave of the hand any more”.
Mocha, who described Uwazuruike as the most fearless, intelligent, courageous, daring and most outspoken Igbo man after Ojukwu, observed that Uwazuruike staked out his life because of Biafra and dared those enemies of Biafra, who presided over the marginalisation of Ndigbo inspite of the dreaded legal tool of intimidation called treasonable felony.
Going down memory lane, Mocha said Uwazuruike, who had been detained for 16 times in Nigeria, recalled that when the Biafran leader announced he was going to re-declare the New Biafra on May 27, 2000, many people, including the five south eastern governors and Ohaneze Ndigbo did not understand what he was talking about.
“On May 22, 2000, Uwazuruike went ahead and did his re-declaration ceremony and hoisted the New Biafra flag five days earlier before the mammoth crowd of about 20,000 youths at Aba”.