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Men of Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), of the Rivers state Police command on Monday disrupted the peaceful match by members of Ralph Uwazurike-led Movement For the Actualization of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOP), at
Obigbo, in Obigbo Local Government Area of the state.
The Biafra agitators numbering over 200 were on a peacefulmatch along the streets of the LGA to mark their annual “Biafra Day”, when the men in five truckload double crossed them and ordered them to stop.
After brief explanations by the agitators and some phonecalls by the leader of the team, their banners, some members Identity cards andapron, especially
those marked “Biafra Red Cross” were removed from their owners (body and necks), and taken away by the Police.
Twelve of the members were also arrested, including the middle aged woman, and six members of the band
(music), group who were playingband for them as they matched and danced. All the musical instruments were
The agitators who did not struggle with the Police during the arrest expressed surprise that the Police could interfere with their peaceful exercise, which did not in any way affect traffic in the area. The leadership of the group said that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), in charge of Obigbo Police station knew about the match. They expressed concern that they did not know where their members were taken to.
They called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Solomon Arase to direct his men to release their members and return all their properties seized as soon as possible, insisting that MASSOB is a non-violent Movement that preaches peace. Reacting shortly after the incident, the Zonal Administrator, Rivers South, Sunday Kalu Amuzie said, “Today is a very big day to all Biafrans around the World, we are marking the anniversary of the Independence of Biafra. It is being celebrated across the globe.
“But our activity today was somehow disrupted by Men of the Nigerian Police who interfered in our peaceful street
match program and arrested 12 of our members including a woman and members of our band. The arresting Police officers also made away with our banners, members Identity cards,
apronsand band instrument, but we neither struggled with them nor reacted to their action.”
Asked if he knew about the subsisting ban on all forms ofstreet match by the state government, said: “We were not informed, moreover, we were on a peaceful street match pass, to create awareness of the Biafra Day celebration, June 30, every year and not to make or
create any troubles.”
Also asked if the state Commissioner of
Police was aware ofthe exercise, said, admitted that he was not informed but that the DPO Obigbo Police station was
somehow informed, since it was a non-violent exercise. The group’s state Director, information and publicity, Anukem Anthony recalled that Biafra Day celebration was revived 17 years ago by their Leader, Uwazurike, and has since them been celebrated without any hitch on this date (June 30).
He condemned the arrest of their members by the police, and called for the IG’s quick intervention. The Spokesman of the state police command Ahmad Muhammad, a Deputy Superintendent of Police was unable to react to the incident as at press time. He said that he was yet to be briefed.