DEJAGABAN.COM-At least four persons were allegedly shot dead yesterday by a combined team of the army, police, civil defence and drug law enforcement agents along Onitsha/Owerri Road as members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) marked her 17th year of agitation for self-determination in Anambra State.
The leader of the group alleged that the security operatives fired sporadically in the air to disperse the over 20,000 crowd of MASSOB members, who were marching peacefully along the road.
While MASSOB members on procession were scampering for safety, four people were shot dead while several others sustained varying degrees of injuries and bullet wounds.
According to him, the task force was coming from different locations firing as they were coming. He said as at the press time, four people who were gunned down during the first attack were immediately carried away by the joint task force while others injured, who could not escape again, were arrested and thrown into open vans and taken to unknown destination.
According to him, a number of undisclosed persons, running into hundred, were also arrested. But when contacted, the Police Public Relation Officer, Mrs. Nkiru Nwode, confirmed the arrest of 14 people, who she alleged conducted themselves in a manner that would cause breach of peace.
She, however, denied that four persons were shot dead. She said: “We did not kill anybody. We effected arrest of 14 persons who conducted themselves in a manner that will likely cause breach of peace. We did not kill anybody. I beg you,” the PPRO stated. However, Religious Administrator of MASSOB, Rev. Apostle Ezichukwu, claimed that more than 50 members were arrested with 20 missing.
Ezichukwu, who said that the procession was peaceful, wondered why the police arrested members of the group. He alleged that security personnel from the Army, Police, Navy and NSCDC were detaining MASSOB members at the Army Barracks, Onitsha, police headquarters, Awka and other police stations.
Also speaking, the Anambra North Zonal Leader of MASSOB, Mr. Benjamin Omenka, appealed for the release of those arrested and urged members of the group to be patient.
Business and vehicular movement were disrupted for several hours in Onitsha and its environs as visitors from within and outside the state were scampering for safety following sporadic gunshots from various directions by anti-riot team of the joint task force. The security operatives yesterday patrolled the commercial town from Bridge Head to Nkpor, from Nkpor to Main Market, from Main Market to Awka Road and from Owerri Road to Upper Iweka.
In Enugu, at least 1,000 members of MASSOB and the Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) were arrested in Nsukka area of Enugu State by security agents.
The members, who wore Biafra uniforms and caps, and marched towards Nsukka town to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the movement, were intercepted at Ede-Oballa, about two kilometres to Nsukka town by combined team of security personnel. The group, comprising men, women, the aged and the young were later released and directed to go home after negotiation between security and leaders of the movement.